They’ve been called ‘literary ninjas,’ hopefully because they appear like magic, do amazing things swiftly and then melt into the night but it was late and there might have been a dram involved. What everyone agrees on is that it’s one of the best jobs in the world celebrating the life, stories and history of one of the greatest cities in the world.
Ali Bowden, Director
Ali runs the company, hatches plans and projects, and is an international woman of literature (she works closely with UNESCO, our sister Cities of Literature around the world and the Creative Cities Network).
Which book do you wish you’d written? The first dictionary. Hats off to Dr Samuel Johnson. Quite the feat, just imagine wrestling all those words down into one single volume. I spend far too much time coming up with new words and trying to persuade the powers that be to include them in their dictionaries. I have, as yet, to succeed, which confuzzles me.
Which author, alive or dead, would you most like to go for a drink with? Robert Louis Stevenson, by the end of the night I’d have pinched his velvet jacket and we’d be swanning around the dark alleys of the old town telling stories and singing old songs.
What’s your favourite Edinburgh, City of Literature location? It has to be the view from the top floor of the Scott monument. On a clear day you can see into the very heart of Edinburgh, the gnarly ridges and wynds of the Old Town and the snooty regular lines of the New Town, the two of them jostling cheek by jowl for your attention.
Siân Bevan, Programme Manager
Siân looks after the Trust’s programme, including our Words on the Street activities and Canongate Stars and Stories, as well as working with our Literary Programmers’ Network. She loves elephants, live events (hosting, organising and watching) and will one day have her own library in a treehouse. If you organise literary events in the city, or would like to, she would love to hear from you. She loves elephants, live events (watching, organising or hosting) and will one day have her own library in a treehouse. She is a bit scared of the dark.
Which book do you wish you’d written? The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall. It’s the book I recommend most to people and I love it for its imagination and wit. When I grow up, I hope to be able to write like that.
Which author, alive or dead, would you most like to go for a drink with? Dorothy Parker. I think she would be the best person to get drunk with, although I think you could probably also have a wild night with Daphne du Maurier.
What’s your favourite Edinburgh, City of Literature location? Reading books in the National Library of Scotland makes you feel like a scholarly genius. I love that it’s so quiet you can hear the swooshing of pages as you try to hold a cough in. It’s such a gorgeous building: the staircase, the bookshelves… I feel lucky to live in a city where I can read any book I want to.
Rebecca Raeburn, Communications Assistant
Rebecca talks all things literary Edinburgh, from sights to streets and all the Trust’s projects in-between. She likes befriending horses, sharing stories, and does her best to tell you what you need to know before you need to know it.
Which book do you wish you’d written? The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. I am a sucker for lyrical prose. I fall in love with words over and over again, and Krauss has a way of arranging them so they land perfectly every time.
Which author, alive or dead, would you most like to go for a drink with? Roald Dahl. We’d go for coffee and I’d ask him about zozimus and if he could invent a word that meant he could write forever.
What’s your favourite Edinburgh, City of Literature location? Canongate Kirk. The Kirkyard itself is worth a walk around, with all its literary connections, but my favourite part is the Robert Fergusson statue that stands right outside. Many a time I’ve stood beside him as he walks, frozen in time, and tried to imagine Edinburgh through his eyes; the world he would have passed on this very same path down the Mile.