Edinburgh is perhaps the only city in the world with a huge monument and a museum dedicated to its writers.
Home to many famous writers — Robert Burns (1759–1996), Sir Walter Scott (1771–1832), Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894), and Sir Arthur Conon Doyle, to name a few — the city has more than its fair share of literary giants.
When you approach the city, no matter in which direction you come from, the first thing that catches your eye is a Gothic-style building looming high in the skyline. I thought was an old chapel. As we got closer, it turned out to be a memorial build to honor the city’s favorite son and noted writer Sir Walter Scott.
It is the biggest monument ever erected for a writer anywhere in the world.
If that wasn’t enough to excite me, the next day, I found out that Edinburgh also has a Writer’s Museum. Needless to say, I wanted to visit it. It is not easy to locate by, my daughter found using her superior skills with iPhone. It is housed in Lady Stair’s House in the older part of the town near Edinburgh castle.
Once a grand mansion near the Royal Mile, the Lady Stair’s House is a four hundred years old, multi-story building. The story is that in the 19th century, when the old buildings were being demolished, a conscientious town planner embarked upon an ambitious renewal program.
Lady Stair’s House was about to be demolished when the fifth Earl of Rosebery (1895) bought the mansion and gifted it to the city of Edinburgh for use as a museum.
The mansion has gone through many renovations since then and has a writerly ambiance to it.
Though not very big, the museum has enough to entice the literary kind.
It had three distinct areas, one dedicated to each of the three famous writers.
Each area has a display of some artifacts from writers’ lives, their stories depicted by banners and photographs, and excerpts from their writings.
Robert Burns was a poet, a romantic kind, who was famous with ladies. He is regarded as a pioneer of the romantic movement in English literature.
He later became a great inspiration to liberalism and socialism. His most famous poem is To a Mouse.
In his later life, he collected Scotland’s folk songs and wrote many of them himself, which are still sung in pubs around Scotland.
Some of his famous poems and songs of Burns that remain well known across the world today include A Red, Red Rose, A Man’s a Man for A’ That, To a Louse, The Battle of Sherramuir, Tam o’ Shanter, and Ae Fond Kiss.
Sir Walter Scott
Sir Walter Scott was a historical novelist, poet, playwright, and historian. Many of his works remain classics of both English and Scottish literature. Famous titles include Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, Old Mortality, The Lady of the Lake, Waverley, The Heart of Midlothian, and The Bride of Lammermoor.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Arthur Conan Doyle
Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes character, though was not born in Edinburgh but was educated at the University of Edinburgh.
A café in 71 -73 York Pl, claims that the famous writer used to live close by.
Alexander Graham Bell
Another notable person born in Edinburgh was scientist, inventor, engineer, and innovator Alexander Graham Bell.
Alexander Bell’s most notable invention was the telephone.
Needless to say, I had a field day in Edinburgh.