To celebrate National Read a Book Day on September 6th we have taken to the streets of Edinburgh; taking inspiration from those who have walked these cobbles before us. From the words of Robert Louis Stevenson in the 1700’s to Ian Rankin in the present day, Edinburgh and the Scottish landscape have been both home to and the inspiration behind many of the worlds famous authors and texts.
Rob Roy McGregor, famous in Scotland’s folklore had his story told in print by Edinburgh’s Sir Walter Scott in 1817. This has since made its way to the big screen in the 1995 film Rob Roy. He also has a marked trail following the paths he walked named in his honour.
The landscape outside of Edinburgh inspired Sir Walter Scott too. His famous poem Lady of the Lake highlights the beauty of Loch Katrine in the Trossachs National Park. The Lochside pathways feature excerpts of his work and visitors can opt to board the Sir Walter Scott Steamship which has been sailing the loch waters since 1899.
A literary salon in Edinburgh was the location where Sir Walter Scott crossed paths with another of Scotland’s greats, Robert Burns. Known by many as The National Poet, Burns work is popular all over the world. The words of his famous Auld Lang Syne reach across the oceans each Hogmanay.
Those who enjoy Burns work, can explore his life by visiting many attractions dedicated to him. The small village Alloway in Ayrshire is where Burns was born and his childhood home can be visited. Alloway also has the illustrated poets trail and museum which tell his story in mixed media formats. The Brig O’ Doon and Auld Kirk featured in the famous Tam O’Shanter overlook this site.
Another world-renowned author from Scotland was Robert Louis Stevenson who was born in 1850 in Edinburgh. Taking inspiration on his travels to Anstruther, Wick, Orkney and Shetland Stevenson wrote many masterpieces in his time including; Treasure Island, Kidnapped and the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Visitors to Edinburgh can follow his footsteps visiting the streets he grew up in and the locations nearby to the city where he spent his childhood holidays.
It is those streets that our present-day authors have also made popular. Ian Rankin, from the Kingdom of Fife studied in Edinburgh and set his famous Rebus novels in the city streets. Many take place in the city centre so visitors can not only read about the city but visit the locations mentioned in the tales. From one end of the Royal Mile at Holyrood Palace to Mary King’s close and Edinburgh Castle at the other; Rankin’s Rebus provides an extra reason to visit with often a gnarly tale afoot.
For gritty tales of the Edinburgh streets the last author whose work you may wish to explore is Irvine Welsh. Welsh set his works in his hometown of Leith, by the waters edge in Edinburgh. Leith has become a popular spot for new cafes and businesses over the last few years. Welsh’s famous Trainspotting and later novels provide an alternative perspective showing the darker side of this area in the 1980’s. Many of the locations in his novels e.g. Meadows and the Volunteer Arms (now the Cask and Still) are still popular with visitors.
Whether you are re-reading a classic or finding something new we recommend learning more about these authors and their works on National Read a Book day this year. You can even arrange a private tour with Discover Scotland Tours to visit these culture rich locations and many more. Our private tours are personalised to each groups interests so whether you wish to sing 500 miles walking down the street in Leith or explore the ‘flowery brae’s of the Birks of Aberfeldy as described by Burns we would love to help you plan your trip. After exploring the city, you can also join us on a trip further north with a number of small group tours to choose from here.