Playwright Robert Kemp (1908-1967)

Robert Kemp on the Edinburgh Festival

“Twice before in my life I have seen Europe go dark and watched the doves of peace having their necks wrung. …”

Playwright and journalist Robert Kemp wrote this celebration of Edinburgh Festival for the Scottish Field in 1967 in the build up the Arab Israeli war. It was one of the last things he wrote as he died later that year.

Festivals are not like people. They never “grow up”. So perhaps it would be a mistake to make too much of the 21st Edinburgh International Festival of Music and Drama (to bestow upon it the full title which leaves out a lot of what happens), except that to say that its continuance for all of those years proves that the original idea was a durable one.

All those years…I , who happen to have seen something of them all, find it difficult to believe that among this years’ audience there will be those who were not born when the early Festivals took place. For them it may seem a venerable institution this Edinburgh Festival Society which some at first predicted would not last for more than a few years.