Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. The creator of Sherlock Holmes – a pipe smoking detective with impeccable reasoning – was born in Edinburgh. The majority of the Sherlock Holmes tales were short stories which have transferred seamlessly to television and film adaptations. Actors who have played Sherlock Holmes include Tom Baker, John Barrymore, Jeremy Brett, Michael Caine, Peter Cushing and Roger Moore.
Dorothy Dunnett. Dunnett’s novel King Hereafter is based on the premise that Macbeth and Orkney’s Earl Thorfinn were one and the same person – a very different story to that of Shakespeare... She is best known for two series of historical novels - The Lymond Chronicles and The House of Niccolo. Dunnett’s first book - The Game of Kings - was initially published in 1961 by an American publisher after being rejected by several publishing houses in Britain.
Ian Rankin. Rankin’s Inspector Rebus is a character readers come to know intimately through crime novels that span over twenty years. Rebus is based in Edinburgh – the books include real and fictional locations. Scotland – dialogue, events, history, place, people – breathes through the writing. Rankin tackles the dark side of human nature and society in his works, presenting a unique view of Scotland.
Sir Walter Scott. Scott’s initial interest was in poetry. His Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border was a unique work, recording and exploring Scottish ballads. Scott turned his hand to novel writing when he realised his popularity as a poet was declining; he achieved considerable success with numerous novels, two of the most popular being Waverley and Ivanhoe.
Muriel Spark. Muriel Spark used her married name for writing, even though she had left her husband many years before her first book was published. She is best known for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie - a complex, beautifully woven novel which explores the relationships between a teacher and a group of pupils she has favoured as they move from childhood to maturity. The book has been filmed and televised. The 1969 film starred Maggie Smith - now a Dame of the British Empire (DBE) - in the title role.
Robert Louis Stevenson. Stevenson was only fourty-four when he died in Samoa, but he left an impressive writing legacy. The Strange Case of Dr Jeckyll and Mr Hyde is a story which lingers in public consciousness – though in modern times few may have read the book, many more will understand what is meant is someone talks of Jeckyll and Hyde – in simplest terms, the light and dark sides of human nature. Treasure Island and Kidnapped are action packed children’s adventure novels. Stevenson also wrote a book which revealed an imaginative and poetic understanding of children - A Child’s Garden of Verses.
Nigel Tranter. Tranter wrote for children and adults; he wrote fact and fiction, westerns and romances. Nigel Tranter’s A History of Scotland is a sweeping view of Scottish history, informed by experience, research and understanding of a land steeped in oral tradition. Tranter’s novels about historical figures – he covers most of the key characters in Scottish history – bring the past to life with a combination of historical knowledge and skilled storytelling.