Dickins Top Five: Books set in Edinburgh
Edinburgh is, without a doubt, a literary city and inspiration for writers across the globe.
Harry Potter enthusiasts can enjoy a cuppa in the very cafés where the books were written, (Nicolson’s Café, now the Spoon Café Bistro, and The Elephant House), and in fact, those in the know can walk past J. K. Rowlings very house!
However, Edinburgh’s literary history is far more interesting and complex than just that of J. K. Rowling. Did you know that our main street, Princes Street, features the world’s largest monument to an author, the Scott Monument? Edinburgh also hosts the world’s largest book festival every year, and we thoroughly enjoy every moment of it!
Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Arthur Conan Doyle have all be inspired by our fine city, while the city itself has set the scene for many a novel. Here are some of our contemporary favourite books set in Edinburgh…
We The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, Muriel Spark
“The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is a novel of Edinburgh. This phrase applies, however, in both the ordinary sense–the novel is set in Edinburgh and presents the reader with characters who were born and have spent their lives there–and the strict sense–the novel is, at its deepest level, “about Edinburgh.”l Jean Brodie herself functions as a personification of certain attitudes common to the citizens of Edinburgh, attitudes that are basically religious or theological in nature. ” – Studies in Scottish Literature
44 Scotland Street, Alexander McCall Smith
First published as a series in the Scotsman newspaper, 44 Scotland Street was an instant hit with Edinburgh locals. The news soon spread, and Scotland Street is now a firm fixture on the ‘must see’ literary streets of Edinburgh.
One Day, David Nichols
Set partly in Edinburgh, David Nichol’s ‘One Day’, now a Hollywood romantic comedy starring Anne Hathaway, features the cobbled streets of the Old Town, Edinburgh University and, of course, Arthur’s Seat.
Trainspotting, Irvine Welsh
Written in 1993, Trainspotting was the first novel written by Irvine Welsh. Born and bred in Edinburgh, Welsh was more than familiar with the city. Trainspotting became a cult classic and tells the story of a group of young heroin users living in Edinburgh in the 1980s. The book was later adapted into a film, directed by Danny Boyle, starring Ewan McGregor and Robert Carlyle.
Knots & Crosses, Ian Rankin
No Edinburgh literary list is complete without an Ian Rankin feature. In Knots & Crosses, we meet the iconic Edinburgh detective for the very first time. Detective Sergeant John Rebus, smoking and drinking too much, is one of many policemen hunting a serial killer on the streets of Edinburgh. Happy Days!
Will you be planning a visit to Edinburgh?
There are lots of fantastic things in Edinburgh to do, but if you’re into books, this is definitely the place to be.