Greyfriars Bobby was written by Eleanor Atkinson in 1912. She based the book on a real dog, whose story was extraordinary.
Greyfriars Bobby lived in Greyfriars Graveyard, where he reputedly sat on his master John Gray’s grave, refusing to be parted from the spot. When this story circulated, Edinburgh locals were so taken by the plight of the dog that he was soon very well fed and looked after. Nearby restaurants and cafes found they were mobbed if Bobby came to visit, so the dog eventually became very good for business, and very popular. The Edinburgh City Council famously awarded him the keys to the city.
It’s likely he was a stray with nothing more remarkable about him than an appetite for human bones, but the story became bigger than he was and his true origins irrelevant to the larger narrative of his loyalty to his master and the loveliness of the entire city taking care of him.
His statue sits nearby on Candlemaker Row. Edinburgh is also home to a tribute for another well-loved hound, Bum of San Diego, who was adopted as the Town Dog.