Literature & writers

12 key Scottish plays 1970-2010

Introducing 12 of the major plays and major playwrights of Scotland. See images from theatre productions and related archive material

An Comunn Gàidhealach

Items from 1891 onwards published by An Comunn Gàidhealach, which organises the annual Royal National Mòd

Chapbooks printed in Scotland

Small cheap booklets sold on Scotland's streets were essential reading material for the masses in the 18th and 19th centuries

Early manuscripts

Medieval and early modern manuscripts from Scotland and beyond, including rare volumes and items with striking illuminations

Edinburgh characters by J Jenkins

Edinburgh celebrities and unknown characters in coloured caricatures produced by J Jenkins between 1799 and 1805

Getting started with Shakespeare

Resources to help school pupils understand some of Shakespeare's works by exploring scenes and characters or writing sonnets

James Scott bindings

A set of 42 volumes of 'The British Poets' series (1773) with bindings by James Scott of Edinburgh

John Francis Campbell of Islay

Journals, watercolours and sketches by Gaelic folklorist, artist, traveller, and scientist John Francis Campbell (1821 to 1885)

Lord Byron

Manuscripts relating to Lord Byron (1788 to 1824), including poems, journals and selected letters

Marjory Fleming

Read the diary, letters and poems of Marjory Fleming, adored in Victorian times, who died aged 8 in 1811

Morall fabillis of Esope the Phyrgia

'Aesop's Fables' put into Scots by 15th-century poet Robert Henryson, who lived in Dunfermline. This edition printed in 1571 in Edinburgh

Muriel Spark

Using material from her personal archive, we tell the story of the life and career of one of Scotland's greatest novelists, Dame Muriel Spark

Paddy Leigh Fermor's 1933 travel diary

Read the journal written by Patrick ('Paddy') Leigh Fermor when he travelled on foot around Europe in 1933

Phoebe Anna Traquair

Examine in detail Traquair's exquisite illuminated manuscript of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's 'Sonnets from the Portuguese'

Publications by Scottish clubs

Historical texts from the 12th-19th centuries, edited by Scottish clubs, including manuscripts, church records, diaries, legends and literary texts

Rare items in Gaelic

Books, pamphlets and chapbooks printed in Gaelic between 1631 and 1900. Includes songs, poetry and religious books

Robert Burns

The life, work and legacy of Scotland's Bard, together with fascinating detail about original material in the Library's collections, and short song clips

Robert Louis Stevenson

A biography of story-teller and poet Robert Louis Stevenson, along with digitised early editions of 'Kidnapped' and other works

Rolls of honour

Scottish listings of casualties and those who died while on active service during the First World War

Shakespeare quartos

There are 17 of William Shakespeare's plays in these 31 books, printed in quarto format between 1600 and 1639

Sir Walter Scott

Manuscripts of novels by Sir Walter Scott (1771 to 1832), including "Waverley" and "Rob Roy", along with letters and poems

Struggles for liberty

Stories of the lifelong struggle for social justice by 19th-century African American freedom-fighters

The Auchinleck Manuscript

Middle English language and literature as Chaucer would have known it, contained in this rare document, with a full transcription

The books of Lewis Grassic Gibbon

Read all 16 books by Lewis Grassic Gibbon / James Leslie Mitchell published in his lifetime

The works of Robert Burns

A commonplace book and letters by Robert Burns (1759 to 1796), and the first printed edition of his poems

Wee Windaes

This site charts the continuum of the Scots language in printed form, from the 15th century to the present day

Works by selected Scottish authors

Out-of-copyright Scottish poetry, prose and children’s stories from the late 19th and early 20th centuries