Author Portraits Exhibition

Photographer Chris Close doesn’t steal souls, but he does capture them for just a brief moment, illuminating the authors that visit Edinburgh in August.

Around the wooden walkways of the Edinburgh International Book Festival hang beautiful glimpses into private writing lives, portraits of great writers that capture our world in their words.

Some of these portraits are taken of writers visiting in 2010, while others are from guests who are with us this year as part of the 2011 programme.

AnnaAnnaAnna’s Book Fest Blog 2011 >

Each day, the exhibition is subtly altered as more authors appear at the Festival – Chris works quickly, and images of visiting writers can be printed on canvas and placed around the site within just a few hours.

I’ll add new images each day, as Chris expands the exhibition. You can see more of his work on his website.

I took this photo of Chris. It is not as good as his pictures. >

The Portraits

Shaun Tan drew Eric on his hand, and Jon Ronson went quackers.

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Ian Rankin‘s 2011 portrait has him peering out from one of his books – I helped pick the page at random, but amusingly it features the words ‘you’re not exactly a poster boy yourself.‘ Fellow crime-writer Val McDermid is looking ecstatic to be at the Book Fest.

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Kristen Hersche was in town for an Unbound evening of music and stories, as well as a more traditional Book Fest reading and Q&A session. Steve Bell took part in his own portrait, producing this brilliant half-photograph / half-illustration effect.

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Steven Amsterdam was a good sport as I made him pose in front of his portrait, and Audrey Niffenegger and Neil Gaiman had a bit of fun during their shoot.

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Green MSP Robin Harper was wearing his trademark scarf, while historical writer Sara Sheridan is looking backwards in time.

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That’s Ali Smith with her mouth open, next to TC Boyle and his umbrella, and Chris Close adding new portraits to the exhibition.


Ian Rankin‘s 2010 portrait, complete with the flashlight he used on stage during a brief, rare power failure. Edna O’Brien was speaking in 2011 as at packed event.

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Poet Ryan van Winkle looks like he’s trying to make a break for it, while the image of Andrew O’Hagan has been put up near the Yurt, away from the children’s venues.


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