A CELEBRATION of the life of anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela will kick off this year's Aye Write!

book festival in Glasgow.

The Glasgow Celebrates Mandela event is at the Mitchell Library on Friday, April 4, chaired by Brian Filling, chairman of the Scottish Anti-Apartheid Movement.

Mr Filling is now South African Honorary Consul and was a friend of Mr Mandela.

South Africa's first freely-elected president died last year aged 95.

Mr Mandela had close links to Glasgow, as it was the first city in the world to award him its Freedom in 1981.

After he was freed from prison, he visited Glasgow in 1993, where Mr Filling got to know him.

He spent the weekend with Mr Mandela in Glasgow and was later invited as a guest to his inauguration as president.

Mr Filling said: "The organisers of Aye Write! asked me to update my booklet, The Glasgow Mandela Story.

"The second edition includes more information, up to his death last year.

"I will be joined at the Aye Write! event by Mara Louw, the South African singer who danced with Mandela in George Square."

He added: "When he came to Glasgow, Mr Mandela really made a striking impression.

"I was fortunate enough to spend a lot of time with him then and in the years after."

Aye Write! this year features the most eclectic line-up yet. Literary heroes, comedy superstars, and Booker Prize winners are among the star names lined up to appear.

The festival, which is in its ninth year, will bring more than 150 renowned authors and speakers to the city for a huge celebration of books and writing, from April 4 to 12.

Booker Prize winner Eleanor Catton, travelling from New Zealand, will appear, as will A S Byatt, winner of the Booker and Commonwealth Writers Prize, who will discuss her varied career and the writers who inspired her.

Vicky Pryce, the ex-wife of shamed MP Chris Huhne, will appear at Aye Write! less than a year after being released from prison.

Accepting her husband's driving penalty points resulted in a jail sentence for perverting the course of justice - but as a result the economist produced a book on the country's failing prison system.

Frankie Boyle will make his debut at Aye Write! to share with audiences the books that helped sharpen his wit and build his controversial career.

His fellow comedian Al Murray comes to Glasgow to reveal his childhood obsession with war films, Commando comics - and Action Man. The poetry of Iain Banks will be read out publicly for the first time in a tribute to the late Scottish writer.

Tickets can be bought online via www.ayewrite.com, by calling 0141 353 8000, or in person at the Mitchell Library.