Edinburgh – City of Writers

You’ve got to love a city that has a museum dedicated to writers.  The three celebrated in Edinburgh’s Writers’ Museum – Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns and R.L. Stevenson – remain widely read and revered even today.  Sir Walter Scott has been credited with ‘inventing’ the historical novel with tales like Kidnapped and Ivanhoe, we all sing Robert Burns’ most famous song, “Should Auld Aquaintance Be Forgot,” at New Year, and who hasn’t dreamed of finding their own Treasure Island or been frightened by a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde character.

writers museum

For a small city of less than half-a-million people, Edinburgh has produced (or been the home to) an amazing number of writers.  Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, Irvine Welsh, J.K. Rowling, Alexander McCall Smith, Iain Banks, Ian Rankin, Robert Fergusson, Muriel Spark, Kenneth Grahame.

Outwith Edinburgh, the list of Scottish writers includes J.M. Barrie, Val McDermid, Louis Welsh, Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Nigel Tranter, Alistair MacLean, A.J. Cronin, Dorothy Dunnett, George MacKay Brown… it goes on and on. and on…

For a wee country, Scotland delivers a ‘muckle’ literary punch.

writer quote


Famous Scottish Writers

Typing ‘Scottish writers’ into Google brings up pages and pages of names. As I said in Monday’s post, for such a small country, Scotland has produced a disproportionate amount of talent.

Here are just a few of those names.

Thomas Carlyle – I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never read any of his work, but he was one of the most important philosophers of the 19th Century. Click here to read some of his most famous quotes. The one I found most inspiring: ‘He who has health has hope; and he who has hope has everything’.

Robert Burns – If you’ve ever sung Auld Lang Syne at New Year, you’ve sung this famous poet’s words.

Sir Walter Scott – Ivanhoe, Rob Roy.

J.M. Barrie – Peter Pan.

Robert Louis Stevenson – Treasure Island.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – The creator of Sherlock Holmes

A.J. Cronin – not quite so popular now, but a huge name in the 40s with The Citadel and Dr Finlay’s Casebook.

Alistair MacLean – The Guns of Navarone. Where Eagles Dare.

Muriel Spark – The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

Kenneth Graham – Wind in the Willows. (I have to admit this was a surprise as it has always seemed a very ‘English’ book to me.)

Iain Banks – The Crow Road

Ian Rankin – Rebus Detective Series

Val McDermid – Crime Writer (Tony Hill Series)

For the Scottish Independence Referendum in September this year, the Scottish Government defines a Scot as someone who chooses to make Scotland his or her home. Under those ‘rules’, here are a few other names you might recognise.

Louise Welsh – Crime writer

Julia Donaldson – Children’s writer.  (The Gruffalo)

J.K. Rowling – Harry Potter series.

Not bad for a small country. What names would you add to this list?