Jenny Brown has worked with many of the biggest names in Scottish literature

Date posted

25 October 2023


A leading figure in Edinburgh’s book scene, and founding Director of the Edinburgh International Book Festival, has been recognised with an Honorary Doctorate from Edinburgh Napier University.

Jenny Brown established the literary agency Jenny Brown Associates in 2002, and previously served as Head of Literature at the Scottish Arts Council and presented book programmes for STV.

She is now Vice-Chair of Edinburgh International Book Festival, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Jenny was awarded her new title of Doctor of the University, and collected her Honorary Degree, during Edinburgh Napier’s graduation ceremony at the Usher Hall today, in recognition of her major contribution to literature and publishing.

Jenny said: “I’m absolutely thrilled to be receiving this Doctorate – it’s a real honour.Honorary Graduate Jenny Brown

“I’ve had a long association with the University. I’ve talked to the publishing students, I’ve had lots of interns at my literary agency from the publishing course, and I’ve been to the creative writing studios quite a number of times. So it’s a lovely honour.

“It’s thrilling to have somebody who has worked in literature all their life recognised this way. I’m not an academic, I’m somebody who believes in the power of reading and power of writing – and somebody who believes very strongly that Scottish writing has got a lot to offer on the international stage.”

Giving her laureation, David Bishop, creative writing lecturer at ENU’s School of Arts and Creative Industries, said: “If anyone who knows the value of a story, it’s Jenny – a woman who revolutionised the way Scotland thinks about reading, writing and publishing.

“A 40-year career in the arts, festivals, publishing and literature has given Jenny a unique perspective on the ability of writers to move and inspire us, and on the power of stories to entertain, to educate and to enthral.

“There is no doubt Jenny’s involvement has been a significant part in the renaissance of Scotland’s writing and publishing industries.”

Jenny was born in Manchester but grew up in Edinburgh. At the age of 24, she was given six months to pull the first Edinburgh book festival together in 1983. It proved so successful it returned two years later and became the annual fixture it is today.

Today she runs an acclaimed literary agency in Edinburgh with a roster of bestselling and multi-award-winning authors. She has worked with William McIlvanney, the godfather of Tartan Noir, and helps keep alive the work of acclaimed writers such as George Mackay Brown and Alasdair Gray.

In addition to her storied career in literature, Jenny has been a consultant for the creation of Edinburgh Napier’s acclaimed BA English programme, taken on students from the Publishing Masters as interns, and been a frequent guest speaker on the University’s Creative Writing programme.