Call for Submissions to Words from the Wards

Call for Submissions to Words from the Wards

Call for Submissions to Words from the Wards: A public writing project celebrating the legacy of the former Edinburgh Royal Infirmary

Ahead of our move to Edinburgh Futures Institute (EFI), we’re inviting Edinburgh locals and those with a connection to the city to take part in a public writing project that celebrates our new venue’s rich heritage. 

The EFI on Lauriston Place is a dynamic space that’s been transformed into a world-leading venue of collaboration, conversation, and creativity for the University of Edinburgh. The building used to be the city’s old Royal Infirmary and was once central to the city’s life with generations of Edinburgh residents and visitors passing through its doors, corridors, and wards.  

With that in mind, we’re asking anyone with a story about the old hospital to write it down and submit it as part of Words from the Wards

The old Royal Infirmary is where many local residents - and those now further afield - took their first breaths,” says Noëlle Cobden, Communities Programme Director at Edinburgh International Book Festival. “Its walls have witnessed uncountable moments of hope, fear, joy, and grief. We want to capture and honour the experiences, relationships, and memories that people connect with the building's previous life, as the Book Festival becomes part of its future.” 

Alongside the public submissions, Words from the Wards will also feature contributions from leading Edinburgh writers and artists, including Dr Gavin Francis, Michael Pederson, Hannah Lavery, Sara Sheridan, Lisa Williams, and Kirsten Innes. 

“Thinking about this commission has already started conjuring scents and sounds,” says Kirstin Innes, remembering visiting her grandfather there at 19 after he’d had a stroke. “Hospital bleach, my footsteps on the stone staircase, the scrape of a chair on aged linoleum. This place means so much to so many of us - it’s an honour to be asked to write something about it.” 

Submitted stories from the public will be published at the Book Festival’s ‘On the Road’ blog at, creating a time capsule of memories about the old infirmary through the eyes of those who worked and visited there throughout the years.  

A selection of the submitted stories will be read by their authors, alongside the professional writers, at special events on-site at EFI on one of the former hospital wards during the Festival. Details about how to submit can be found: here.  

During the Book Festival there will also be a tie-in with Edinburgh Futures Institute Culture and Community team’s ongoing Recycling a Hospital project, which will see a new object created from materials preserved from the building’s original interiors (floorboards and slates), and poetry written by community members, installed within the space. The object, called 'The Spirit Case', will become a hub for gathering further stories, with Book Festival visitors invited to engage with the existing stories and contribute their own reflections and memories of the building. 


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