Literature in Edinburgh & The Lothians

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  • Rosslyn Chapel
    Rosslyn Chapel
  • The Sir Walter Scott statue below the Scott Monument, Princes Street
    The Sir Walter Scott statue below the Scott Monument, Princes Street

Edinburgh is renowned for its literary connections and in 2004 it became the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature. The prestigious accolade was awarded to Edinburgh in recognition of its status as a world centre for literature and literary activity.

Edinburgh certainly has a rich literary history. Immerse yourself in this world by spending a day exploring sites across Scotland’s capital city with links to some of the world’s best known authors and their work.

Discover the former homes of some of Edinburgh’s former literary residents, such as the birthplace of Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott’s home and the birthplace of Muriel Spark - author of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, considered an essential Edinburgh novel.

You can follow in the footsteps of the creator of Treasure Island by following a self-guided tour by Edinburgh World Heritage - walk in the footsteps of Robert Louis Stevenson - to see landmarks that inspired his fiction.

You can enjoy a drink in the Oxford Bar, the favourite pub of fictional character Detective Inspector Rebus, created by the UK’s bestselling crime writer, Edinburgh-based Ian Rankin. Or why not relax with a coffee in The Elephant House in the Old Town, the cafe where JK Rowling reputedly wrote her first Harry Potter novel, The Philosopher’s Stone? Join an Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour and you can visit other drinking holes around the city that were patronised by famous writers.   

In the centre of Edinburgh you can see the biggest monument to a writer anywhere in the world, the Scott Monument. Dedicated to Sir Walter Scott, considered one of Scotland’s greatest writers, the monument features a statue of Scott at its centre and is decorated in smaller statues of characters from his novels.

You'll find more literary locations in the Lothians. A monument stands in Aberlady Bay to the novelist, Nigel Tranter, who was well known for his famous Scottish non-fiction books.

Founded in 1446, the mysterious, richly decorated late-Gothic Rosslyn Chapel featured heavily in Dan Brown’s novel The Da Vinci Code. But he is not the only literary figure to be inspired by Rosslyn. The great Scots writer Sir Walter Scott and renowned poet William Wordsworth, whose sister Dorothy described it as ‘exquisitely beautiful’, have all featured it in their works.

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