Official Guide to Edinburgh
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Literature

Home and the inspiration to many great writers, Edinburgh is rightly proud of its accreditation as the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature.

This award recognises not only Edinburgh’s historical literary roots, but also gives credit to its on-going activity to promote the city’s championing of Scotland’s literature and development of international literary partners through its tours, festivals, and events.

Our Celebrated Writers

Sir Walter Scott, renowned for his historical novels, plays and poetry was the first English writer to be recognised globally for his contribution to literature in the 19th century.  The Scott Monument was erected in his honour in 1846 and dominates the Princes Street skyline.  A climb up its 287 steps is well worth the effort to view the stunning views stretching across the city.

Robert Louis Stevenson thrilled readers with his tales of Treasure Island, Kidnapped and the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle brought the well-liked characters of Sherlock Holmes and Dr Watson to the imaginations of readers and audiences with its scripts and subsequent filming in modern times of their exhilarating adventures. More recently Edinburgh writers Alexander McCall Smith and Ian Rankin have delighted readers with their detective novels and JK Rowling is a global phenomenon thanks to the bravery and heroic acts of a young wizard and his friends in the acclaimed Harry Potter books.

Literary Destinations

Makars Court, tucked off the top of the Royal Mile is a tranquil courtyard with carved paving stones celebrating writers from the 14th century to the present day. Here you will find The Writers Museum, which contains portraits and the works of some of Scotland’s great writers including Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson.  The Scottish Storytelling Centre also resides in the Royal Mile and its modern architecture stands out against its historical counterparts.  An award winning public building, it includes a theatre, book and gift shop and storytelling café.   It runs a full program of events for those wishing to cultivate their storytelling, music-making, singing and dancing skills. The Scottish Poetry Library offers a warm welcome to budding poets and in addition to an extensive range of poetry books and leaflets, regularly hosts poetry evenings.  The National Library of Scotland is Scotland’s largest library situated on George IV Bridge.  A reference library hosting world-class collections, it is one Europe’s major research libraries. The library runs a regular program of talks, workshops and events.

Literary Tours Edinburgh

For those wishing to tread in the footsteps of your literary heroes, there are a variety of tours which come highly recommended.  Designed to entertain, thrill and amuse, why not start by exploring the Edinburgh City of Literature website to view the latest events and tours.  The very popular Edinburgh literary pub tour is an informative and highly entertaining tour conducted by professional actors.  Discover the dark and mysterious world of Inspector Rebus on an Ian Rankin’s Rebus Tour enjoying some of Edinburgh’s most stunning scenery and unexplored areas.  Edinburgh Book Lover’s Tour spans 500 years and penetrates the capital’s ancient wynds, closes and graveyards.  From historical writers to modern favourites, it caters to all tastes. The Scottish Parliament Literature Tour invites visitors to explore its links with literature over the years from renowned, historical writers to today's popular authors.   

A visit to the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August is an absolute must for literary fans and a key highlight of the year.

If you're a book lover check out our blog on the Top 6 Independent Book Shops in Edinburgh>