phone mail2 facebook twitter play whatsapp
Edinburgh: A City of Literature

Edinburgh: A City of Literature

15 March 2018 | Phoebe McGowan

Back in 2004, Edinburgh became a pioneering force when it claimed the title as the first Unesco City of Literature. The city has both a rich and diverse literary history and thriving literary culture today. Whether you are new to the city, or looking to explore a different side of it, here are some ways you can enjoy Edinburgh as a City of Literature.

Bookshops and Libraries
Whilst every city has its bookshops and libraries, Edinburgh has a unique variety and range for you to discover. Stroll around Lighthouse - Edinburgh’s Radical Bookshop to explore topics from tattoos to feminism, or rummage through Southside Books, a second hand bookshop where you can find literary treasures without breaking the bank.
 
If you don’t fancy buying, then there are copious libraries to borrow from. The Scottish National Library, spread over two buildings, boasts a wide range of literature in a grandiose setting, whilst the Scottish Poetry Library is a cosy, intimate place to settle down with some verse. Try Ian Rankin or Jackie Kay for some contemporary Scottish literature, or dive into Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh, to relive the famous story in the city where it’s set.


Image Credit: Scottish Poetry Library
 
Spotting literary history
Perhaps one of the most exciting parts of Edinburgh is the history that is built into the city’s cobbled buildings and winding streets. If you arrive by train, be sure to come into Waverley - the only train station in the world to be named after a novel (Waverley, by Sir Walter Scott), or visit the gorgeous and Gothic Scott Monument named after the writer, and appreciate the national pride that is fostered through Scottish Literature. If you’re strolling through the Meadows, keep an eye out for the murals dedicated to the wonderful work of writer, poet and essayist Muriel Spark as well.

Spend an hour or two wandering around Old Town and the tall church spires and quaint shops will help you understand why J.K. Rowling wrote something as magical as Harry Potter in Edinburgh. Walk through the Greyfriars Kirkyard and spot some familiar names, from McGonogall to Tom Riddle, written on the gravestones. If it’s raining, look over the graveyard from the warmth of The Elephant Cafe, a popular spot of Rowling’s when she was writing the hit series. If after all that you want to cast your own spells, head to Harry Potter shop Diagon House, where a plethora of merchandise awaits you.


Image Credit: Carlos Carazo via Flickr 

Poetry nights and exhibitions
As a City of Literature, Edinburgh works hard to maintain a programme of literary themed events throughout the city. The Edinburgh International Book Festival in August is obviously the best time to experience these but during any one week there are a whole host of spoken word nights, open mics and book launches for you to attend. The Scottish Poetry Library publishes a list of all these events so check their website for specific details, but a particular highlight is Inky Fingers - an open mic which takes place every month with a featured poet. These poetry nights create a sense of community and are a fantastic way to explore local life within the city.
 
If poetry isn’t your jam, then perhaps try one of the museum exhibitions on famous Scottish authors. Currently, there are some temporary exhibitions on Muriel Spark and Robert Burns, but there is also The Writer’s Museum, which celebrates Burns, Scott, and Stevenson all year round. A great opportunity to enrich your literary knowledge and wow your friends at your next Burns Supper.


Image Credit: Visit Scotland

Tell us what you think

You may also like

A Food Lover’s Guide to Podcasts

A Food Lover’s Guide to Podcasts

A love of food has always been one of the few topics that unites people from all over the world. Nevertheless, the food we eat…

A Guide to Drinking in Bournemouth

A Guide to Drinking in Bournemouth

After a day of sandcastles, swimming in the sea, Harry Ramsden’s chips and maybe even hitting Boscombe’s surf reef, you’re going to need a well-earned drink.…

The Best Bottomless Brunches in Leeds

The Best Bottomless Brunches in Leeds

The bottomless brunch arrived in Leeds just two wee years ago. Now, it’s a staple of the city’s weekend, starting your Saturday off the right way or…

Not Your Average Cocktail: An Interview with Ben Alcock

Not Your Average Cocktail: An Interview with Ben Alcock

Infusing an array of unusual ingredients with uniquely flavoured spirits, ‘Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ (HMSS) serves some of Bristol’s most innovative cocktails. To celebrate the launch of…

Bristol’s Hidden Gems: Winter Warmers

Bristol’s Hidden Gems: Winter Warmers

Christmas is coming and the geese are getting fat, but there’s still time for just one more set of recommendations to find the very best Bristol…

Britten’s War Requiem at York Minster

Britten’s War Requiem at York Minster

York Minster’s final concert of the season simultaneously marks the centenary of the conclusion of World War I with Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem. Interspersed with poems by…

Mindfulness Retreats in the UK

Mindfulness Retreats in the UK

Recent years has seen a growth in mindfulness. All across the UK there’s a whole range of retreats, perfect for escaping to when life gets a…

An Interview with Sharleen Spiteri from ‘Texas’

An Interview with Sharleen Spiteri from ‘Texas’

Founded in 1986 by Johnny McElhone (formerly of bands Altered Images and Hipsway) and Sharleen Spiteri, 'Texas' was named after the 1984 Wim Wender’s film, Paris,…

Top 5 Independent Cinemas in the Midlands

Top 5 Independent Cinemas in the Midlands

A multiplex is all well and good, but there’s nothing we love more than an independent cinema – the way it becomes a cultural hub for…

Surviving the apocalypse: ZED Events Wasteland Experience

Surviving the apocalypse: ZED Events Wasteland Experience

Following on from the success of their Zombie Shopping Mall experience, which ran for 6 years, ZED events brings you their brand new Wasteland Experience…

Most popular

A Guide to Summer Films

A Guide to Summer Films

As the heat wave ranges on, spend a bit of time indoors with these hot films!
Win an Open Air Cinema Experience with Popcorn and Prosecco!

Virgin Experience Days - Win an Open Air Cinema Experience with Popcorn and Prosecco!

We're offering a lucky Culture Calling reader the chance to swap their next friendly film night for something a bit more epic, with a trip to a stunning open-air cinematic venue to enjoy a classic film and some bubbles under the evening sky!
Win a visit to Bletchley Park for two!

Virgin Experience Days - Win a visit to Bletchley Park for two!

Win a trip to the fascinating Bletchley Park, to get an insight into the once top-secret home of the World War Two Codebreakers.
Bird is the Word: The UK’s Best Birdwatching Spots

Bird is the Word: The UK’s Best Birdwatching Spots

From flamingos to ospreys, puffins to swans, there’s plenty of species of winged wildlife for hawk-eyed birdwatchers to see in UK!
Top 5 UK Lidos and Outdoor Pools

Top 5 UK Lidos and Outdoor Pools

With summer in full swing, we’ve rounded up Britain’s best pools for a spot of outdoor swimming!
Do It for the Gram: An Interview with Will Bower

Do It for the Gram: An Interview with Will Bower

We caught up Will Bower, Managing Director of the Selfie Factory, ahead of the launch of the UK’s first made for Instagram exhibition in Brighton. We discussed his inspirations, escapism, and how selfies may be able to promote confidence and happiness.
Spotlight On: The Whitworth, Manchester

Spotlight On: The Whitworth, Manchester

Discover Mancheser's "gallery in the park"!
FILM REVIEW: Mad to Be Normal

FILM REVIEW: Mad to Be Normal

Mad to Be Normal, the biopic focused on the radical and innovative psychiatric treatments conducted by Dr. Ronald David Laing, will be released on VOD channels on 13 August!
The Original Mail-Order Bride!

The Original Mail-Order Bride!

Learn about the intense orchestration and political manoeuvring behind King Henry VIII marriage to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, in a new play “The Court Must Have a Queen” performed at Hampton Court Palace over the summer!
FILM REVIEW: Tracking Edith - A Spy with A Conscience

FILM REVIEW: Tracking Edith - A Spy with A Conscience

Mysterious, elusive, enigmatic: Edith Tudor-Hart was a woman who lived many different lives in her sixty-five years. In Tracking Edith director Peter Stephan Jungk attempts to expose the woman behind the rumours.

Your inbox deserves a little culture!