How do writers experience the voices of the characters they create? How do their readers? Do you hear different voices for different characters? Have you ever experienced those characters saying things beyond the pages of a book?

Hearing the Voice is delighted to produce a series of literary events, playful activities and interactive workshops exploring the essential role voices play in the way we write and read literary works at the Edinburgh International Book Festival this year.

All events will take place from 18 August to 20 August at The Bookshop on George Street unless otherwise specified.


Literary Voices Exhibition

18 – 20 August 2018, 12.30 – 4.30pm

(19 August 2018, 12.30-4.30pm and 7-10pm)

Free – no reservations necessary

Drawing on our exhibition Hearing Voices: Suffering, inspiration and the everyday, this installation explores the inner voices of writers and readers from the medieval period to the present day. Drop in to explore voices and voice-hearing in the life and work of Virginia Woolf, Charles Dickens, Samuel Beckett, Muriel Spark and many more, and meet the researchers behind the exhibition.


Create Your Own Character Map

17 August, 2-4pm

Age 8-12

(Currently sold out)

Join us at this playful, interactive workshop to create a unique map of what you experience when you read. Chart the voices of characters from your favourite books, and take your map home with you to use as a starting point for creating your own wonderful stories.


Inspire Writing and Reading

17 August, 5-7pm Teachers’ workshop

(Currently sold out)

A unique opportunity to learn how to inspire creative writing and reading through charting the voices of characters in works of fiction. Led by Durham University’s Mary Robson and David Napthine, this interactive workshop will show you how to create a map of your reading experience through playful exercises and prompts. Leave with your map and plenty of creative writing ideas to inspire people of all ages.


Map Your Reading Experience

18 August, 10am-12pm & 5-7pm

19 August, 10am-12pm


Do you hear the voices of characters when you read? What do they sound like? Do they have a life outside the fictional world of the book? Explore the way we experience the voices, presence and agency of characters when we read in our interactive, creative workshop led by Mary Robson and David Napthine.


An evening with Gillian Allnutt

18 August, 7.30pm


Gillian Allnutt is the author of multiple poetry collections including How the Bicycle Shone (2007) and indwelling (2013), and was the recipient of the The Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry 2016. She will be reading from her ninth poetry collection, wake (2018), which includes poems inspired by her work with Hearing the Voice – an interdisciplinary study of voice-hearing based at Durham University and funded by the Wellcome Trust.


Map the Voices of Spark’s Characters

19 August 2018, 7-9pm

20 August 2018, 10-12pm


A must for Spark enthusiasts, this creative workshop invites you to chart the voices of characters in the work of Muriel Spark, including Memento Mori, The Comforters and many more. Led by Mary Robson and David Napthine. 


The Many Voices of Muriel Spark with John Foxwell and Patricia Waugh

20 August 2018, 7.15pm-8.15pm

Spark Theatre on George Street


Muriel Spark’s characters are famously acerbic and witheringly satirical but what was her relationship to the voices that inspired and defined them? Durham University researchers John Foxwell and Patricia Waugh offer a unique understanding of Spark’s many different voices in this event. By mapping multiple influences from Hebraic traditions to her work on propaganda, they hope to redefine our relationship with her novels.