Famous Scottish Authors You Need to Read

Maddie Mackenna

Hello my amazing readers,

If a great Scottish literary figure has inspired you, well, you are not alone. Many people have read the words of Robert Burns, Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson, to name a few of the most significant Scottish authors. 

But who exactly were these people and what did they do? What did they write and when? Well, we are about to find out. 

Bonus info: Scotland’s first book was published in Edinburgh in 1508. It was called The Complaint of the Black Knight. Intriguing, isn’t it?

Sir Walter Scott

One of his first novels ever published was Marmion (1808) and The Lady of the Lake, in 1810. He died in 1832, and for many, he is considered the inventor and the greatest practitioner of the historical novel.

But he was not simply a novelist. No, sir! He was also a poet, a historian and a lawyer. Talk about a Jack of all trades! Among his other works, we have: Waverley (1814), Old Mortality (1816) and Ivanhoe (1819). But none of these books made him famous. His efforts to translate and restore German compositions often resulted in powerful poems that show a sophisticated Romantic flavour.

If you ever visit Edinburgh, don’t forget to visit Scott’s Monument, the tallest monument commemorating an author. It’s so beautiful!

Robert Louis Stevenson

Now, I don’t suppose that you haven’t heard of the famous story “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”? Well, that was Robert Louis Stevenson! It is said that the dual personality of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was inspired by the Mound, the intersection between the New and Old Towns in Edinburgh.

But this novel was not all that Steven did. He was also a poet, a playwright, a Gothicist, a historian, an anthropologist, a Victorian, and a Postmodernist. In short, an outstanding modern writer, constantly experimenting.

Other works of his include: Treasure Island (1881), Kidnapped (1886), and The Master of Ballantrae (1889).

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Ah, the creator of the most famous detective of all times. What? No, not Hercules Poirot, the other one. Just kidding! Of course I am talking about Sherlock Holmes, the most popular fictional detective in literature. 

Who doesn’t love a good story featuring our beloved maniac? He is truly one of my favorite characters! 

Did you know? Before becoming a prolific writer, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, practised botany at the Royal Botanic Garden and was also a practising physician. A man of many talents! 

The Doyles were a prosperous Irish-Catholic family that lived in Edinburgh. Despite what you may think, Arthur got his talent from his mother, Mary Doyle. She had a gift of “sinking her voice to a horror-stricken whisper” when she reached the culminating point of a story. 

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote almost 200 novels, short stories, poems, and historical books. 

Bonus: JK Rowling

I don’t think the author of one of the most famous fantasy series of all times needs an introduction. Harry Potter came out in the 90s, and over 20 years later, fans are still going crazy over the young wizard and his tales of bravery and friendship.

It has become the most best-selling book in history. JK Rowling has been living in Edinburgh almost her whole life, and many places inspired in-book locations. Diagon Alley, for example, was inspired by Victoria Street, and Hogwarts was inspired by the castle-like George Heriot’s School. 

While Rowling is not the only Scottish female author, nor the most historically significant one, she is one of the most well-known and popular authors of our modern times. And we can thank Scotland for that!

Who is your favorite author, my dear? 

Do you have any favorite Scottish authors?

Let me know in the comments!

Until next time…

Written by Maddie Mackenna

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