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Edinburgh book festival director stands down

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Edinburgh International Book Festival director Catherine Lockerbie said on Tuesday she was resigning after nine years during which she helped make it one of the top literary gatherings of its kind in the world.

Lockerbie handed over the reins for this year's festival to Richard Holloway as interim director due to ill health.

Festival organizers said the search was underway for a new director in time to shape the 2010 event, which attracts around 200,000 visitors annually.

Lockerbie said in a statement she would be taking up a consultancy role on the impact of literature, culture and festivals at home and abroad.

"Obviously I will be leaving with considerable sadness, but also with intense pride and optimism. I'm handing on the festival at a point where it is artistically and organizationally in the most robust health."

Canadian author Margaret Atwood, a frequent participant who will launch her new novel "The Year of the Flood" at this year's festival, paid tribute to Lockerbie for her "passion and dedication and wild Scottish fervor.

This year's festival in the city center runs from August 15 to 31 in parallel with the Edinburgh International Arts Festival and Fringe.

(Reporting by Ian Mackenzie, editing by Paul Casciato)

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