Robert Louis Stevenson 1850 - 1894
Born in Edinburgh, the son of a lighthouse engineer, he became a famous novelist. He wrote many classics including Treasure Island and Kidnapped. He was constantly dogged by ill health and for this reason moved to Samoa where he died in 1894.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 1859 - 1930
Conan Doyle began his career studying medicine, however, he is best known for his stories of the adventures of Sherlock Holmes of whom there is statue on Picardy Place, Edinburgh, where Doyle was born.
Sir James M. Barrie 1860 - 1937
Born in Kirriemuir, his most famous work was Peter Pan. The National Trust for Scotland has a visitor centre at Barries birthplace which is open to the public.
Robert Burns 1759 - 1796
Born in Alloway, just south of Ayr, he was the son of a farmer. Burns was famed for writing in the language of the people. His work became very popular with the literary elite in Edinburgh with its often satirical attacks on the establishment. He later became an Exciseman and died soon after in Dumfries. The Burns National Heritage Park in Alloway includes the cottage where he was born. There is also a museum commemoration Burns in Dumfries.
Sir Walter Scott 1771 - 1832
Born in Edinburgh, he began his career in the legal profession but soon became a phenomenally successful poet and novelist with romantic historical works such as Waverley and Rob Roy. Scott was more responsible than anyone else for transforming the image of Scotland and for establishing many modern conceptions of Scottish history and character.
James Hogg 1770 - 1835
James Hogg, known as the Ettrick Shepherd, was born at Ettrick Hall in the Borders. He left formal education after six months and at age seven began to work as a cowherd. In his mid-teens he taught himself to read and write and to play the fiddle. Throughout his life his mother had taught him the great oral tradition of the ballads and folklore of the Borders. His new found skills and the help of the family allowed him to extend his knowledge and he began writing poetry. At this time Sir Walter Scott became the sheriff of the Borders and was looking for a source of local ballads. The two men met and became great contemporaries and friends throughout their lives.
Charles Rennie Mackintosh 1868 - 1928
Born in Glasgow, Mackintosh was one of Scotland's most original architects. His works include the Glasgow School of Art, Hill House in Helensburgh and he produced the designs for a House for an Art Lover. Later he concentrated on his painting career although he never gained as much international fame for this pursuit.
The Glasgow Boys
In the late 1870s this group of young artists, sought to challenge the established art world through their subject matter and tonal qualities. They flourished throughout the 1880s and 1890s, and as well as painting in Glasgow and its environs they sought scenes of rural life and character in Kirkcudbright, Cockburnspath and other parts of Scotland. Principal members of the group included Joseph Crawhill, Sir James Guthrie, George Henry and EA Hornel - their works can be seen in various Scottish collections, notably the Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum, the Burrell Collection and Broughton House, Kirkcudbright.
The Scottish Colourists 1920's - 1930's
Building on the work of the Glasgow Boys was a smaller group of post-impressionist artists. Although not recognised in the 1920s and 1930s when they were exhibiting, they were rediscovered in the 1980s as a seminal influence on 20th century Scottish painting and are now highly regarded internationally. Trained in France and consequently borrowing from the strong vibrant colours of contemporary French painting, they became known as the Scottish Colourists. The main artists were S.J. Peploe, F.C.B. Cadell, Leslie Hunter and J.D. Fergusson. Their works have become familiar particularly through reproductions. Originals can be seen in Scottish galleries including Aberdeen Art Gallery, Kikcaldy Art Gallery and the JD Fergusson Gallery in Perth.
Sorley MacLean 1911 - 1996
Sorley MacLean was born in the small village of Osgaig on the Isle of Raasay, near Skye. He was raised in the Gaelic language and began English at six when he started school in Portree on Skye. He studied English at university and there he began to write poetry. His first poems were written in English which he then translated into Gaelic but he decided they sounded better in Gaelic and subsequently destroyed all copies in English. He is today regarded as the father of the Gaelic Renaissance and his work, so full of imagery, still touches people.
George MacKay Brown 1921 - 1996
George MacKay Brown was born in the harbour town of Stromness. He went to school there and then for over 10 years he occupied himself with reading, writing poems and contributing to the local newspaper. In 1951 he moved to Edinburgh to study at Newbattle Abbey College where fellow Orcadian, Edwin Muir was the Warden. Edwin Muir influenced his writing greatly and helped to get his first collection of poems published as Loaves and Fishes in 1959. MacKay Brown returned to Stromness to continue writing and rarely left the Island again. His work was influenced by his surroundings, the history of the islands and by Norse folklore. His novels include Greenvoe, Magnus and An Orkney Tapestry.
Edwin Muir 1887 - 1959
Edwin Muir was born and brought up in Orkney. At Fourteen he was forced to leave the Island when his family moved to Glasgow. Within four years he had lost both his parents and five of his siblings which only served to increase the Gulf between him and his ‘Eden’, Orkney. He married and moved to London where he began to write. His psychological distress affected his work greatly and he began to write as he saw life, re-enacting fable with much parody. He later became Warden of Newbattle Abbey College, near Edinburgh, where he found peace by inspiring the adult students. The complete poems of Edwin Muir was published in 1991.
Eric Linklater 1899 - 1974
Eric Linklater was actually born in Penrath in Wales, however, he led people to believe he had been born in Dounby, Orkney. His family moved to Orkney when he was young and he always regarded the isles as his spiritual home. He is regarded as one of the most versatile novelists of the mid-century, writing poetry, historical novels and fictional novels. His most well known novels include Juan in America, Magnus Merriman and The Lion and the Unicorn. His autobiographies include A year in Space and Fanfare for a Tin Hat. Eric Linklater is buried is St Michael's churchyard in Harray, Orkney.
John Buchan, Lord Tweedsmuir 1875 - 1940
John Buchan was born in Perth and went on to have a distinguished diplomatic career culminating as Governor General of Canada. He was most famous for his novels such as The Thirty-Nine Steps. He also wrote number of historical biographies.
Compton MacKenzie 1883 - 1972
Sir Edward Montague Compton MacKenzie spent a long period of his life in the small island of Barra in the Western Isles. While living here he became committed to Scottish Nationalism. He wrote a series of finely observed Scottish comedies, the most successful of which was Whisky Galore, a fictional account of the 1941 shipwreck of the S.S. Politician which sank carrying a full load of whisky near the isle of Eriskay. MacKenzie is buried on Barra.
Hugh MacDiarmid 1892 - 1978
Born in Langholm, he was involved in politics as an early member of the Independent Labour Party, the Communist Party and a founder member of the Scottish National Party. It was however, his poetry that made him famous and he worked hard to establish Scotland as a serious literary base. His poem A Drunk Man looks at the Thistle is widely regarded as one of the most important long poems in 20th century Scottish Literature.