I will say it fairly, it grows on me with every year: there are no stars so lovely as Edinburgh street-lamps.

Robert Louis Stevenson

Edinburgh is truly a city built on books - and in the following chapters you can read through our literary past, take in more of our vision for a literary future, and explore the wealth of words and ideas on offer in Scotland. To read on, click on each of the Chapters to open the PDF in a new window.

These chapters are taken from our book 'We cultivate literature on a little oatmeal...' which tells the full story of Edinburgh's, and Scotland's, literary past and present, and which you can buy online or from all good bookshops.

 

Chapter 1 - An Overview of Scotland's Literature

Scotland's contribution to world literature. Taking you through the creme de la creme of literary greats like Scott, Stevenson and Burns, visiting twentieth-century poets and playwrights, taking you from the pioneers of fiction to the fantasy, satire and crime fiction of today. Not forgetting, of course, Wendy and Peter, Ratty and Mole and the magic of Harry.

 

Chapter 2 - The Scottish Enlightenment

The Scottish Enlightenment. Edinburgh was a hotbed of genius, housing a host of great thinkers with a thirst for understanding - from David Hume and Adam Smith to Dugald Stewart and Adam Ferguson.

 

Chapter 3 - Centre of Publishing

Edinburgh as a centre of publishing - and the birthplace of Scottish printing in 1508. The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Chambers Encyclopaedia, Blackwood's magazine, and the Edinburgh Review all came from the Scottish capital, and the spectacular John Murray publishing archive is now housed at the National Library of Scotland.  Today, there are around 80 publishing houses, including Canongate Books, Birlinn, Polygon and Mainstream.

 

Chapter 4 - A Literate Nation

Scotland: a literate nation with a love of books. The Scottish Parliament passed the very first compulsory education law in 1496, beginning a pathway to almost universal literacy in the 18th century, a flourishing public library system and a strong network of Universities. Edinburgh leads the way, home to four Universities and the world's largest Book Festival, with 30 more literary festivals around the country.

 

Chapter 5 - Scotland's Unique Languages

Scotland's unique languages. Scots and Gaelic are unique to Scotland, and together with English make up our "three-tongued nation."

 

Chapter 6 - A City of Remembrance & Inspiration

A city of remembrance and inspiration. Our city is a character in her own right - from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie to Trainspotting and crime writer Ian Rankin's DI Rebus, from Greyfriars Bobby to The Heart of Midlothian, Edinburgh is at the heart of renowned literature.

 

Chapter 7 - International Literary Profile

An international literary profile - Scottish authors in translation and world literature brought home to Edinburgh.