10 Edinburgh… Literary Pubs
Edinburgh has more licensed premises than any other part of Scotland. Now, we’re in no way suggesting that there might be a correlation between creating and carousing, but if you fancy raising a glass to your favourite literary personality or want to just soak up the atmosphere here are some suggestions around the city.
Books, words, ideas - cheers!
The Blind Poet
In the wood panelled entrance hall to the Blind Poet, you’ll find poems inscribed on the wall in homage to the pub’s namesake and former owner, eighteenth century poet, Thomas Blacklock. The pub’s literary tradition lives on with a series of open mic and spoken word nights. We feel sure he would approve.
Greyfriars Bobby's bar
Located on Candlemaker Row, Greyfriars Bobby’s Bar sits cheek by furry jowl with the statue of the famous canine and the Kirkyard where he kept guard on his master’s grave. Say hello to Bobby on your past but PLEASE don’t touch his nose. It’s more likely to bring you a dirty hand than luck!
White Hart Inn
Founded in 1516, the White Hart Inn is one of Edinburgh’s oldest public houses so it’s no surprise its seen some notable literary happenings over the years. Robert Burns lodged there on his last visit to Edinburgh in 1791, as did William and Dorothy Wordsworth in 1803. They didn’t review on TripAdvisor.
Although most associated with Dundee, William Topaz McGonagall – the world’s best worst poet – was actually from Edinburgh. He moved back to the city living out his last years above the Captain’s Bar in South College Street. The bar continues his lyrical work, although of a much higher quality, with spoken word events and live music.
The Cumberland Bar
The Cumberland Bar is a firm favourite with locals including a number of characters in Alexander McCall Smith’s 44 Scotland Street novels. Bruce, Pat, Stuart, Matthew and Angus Lordie all frequent it and Cyril (Angus’ gold-toothed dog) celebrated his exoneration from scurrilous accusations of biting with a dish of beer there.
Named after Sir Walter Scott‘s baronial mansion in the Scottish Borders, The Abbotsford is just as beautiful and has been popular with performers and writers for many years, including Scottish Renaissance poets like Hugh MacDiarmid, Sorley MacLean and Sydney Goodsir Smith. It is also the ‘howff’ for The Scottish Review of Books.