Edinburgh became the first designated UNESCO City of Literature in 2004. There are currently a total of 28 cities recognized.

This list will help you discover some of the most famous authors of Scotland, past and present.

Famous authors of Scotland

Past authors of Scotland:

Sir Walter Scott wrote novels, plays, poetry, short stories and non-fiction. Some of his most famous titles are the poem “Lady of the Lake” and “Rob Roy”, from his long “Waverley” novel series.

“Look back, and smile on perils past.” – Sir Walter Scott

Robert Burns is a well-known Scottish poet and lyricist. “Auld Lang Syne” is his most notable work.

“But to see her was to love her, Love but her, and love forever.” – Robert Burns

Arthur Conan Doyle, born in Edinburgh, is the creator of “Sherlock Holmes”.

“It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important.” – Arthur Conan Doyle

Robert Louis Stevenson created novels, poetry and essays. His most famous works include “Kidnapped”, “A Child’s Garden of Verses”, “Treasure Island” and “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde”.

“A friend is a gift you give yourself.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Discover things to do in medieval Edinburgh. Explore Old Town and New Town along with the many museums, monument, memorials and galleries of this historic city. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr

Robert Louis Stevenson wrote part of his famous novel “Kidnapped” at the historic Hawes Inn in Queensferry, located 17 kms from Edinburgh. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr

Present authors of Scotland:

Ian Rankin is a novelist most well-known for his crime writing in the “Inspector Rebus” series.

“I still think most writers are just kids who refuse to grow up. We’re still playing imaginary games, with our imaginary friends.” – Ian Rankin

JK Rowling is an award-winning writer famous for the “Harry Potter” series. Joanne Rowling is not from Scotland, but wrote some of the series here. The “Harry Potter” movies used several Scottish locations in films.

“The world is full of wonderful things you haven’t seen yet. Don’t ever give up on the chance of seeing them.” – JK Rowling

Discover Harry Potters' Elephant House. Things to do in medieval Edinburgh. Explore Old Town and New Town along with the many museums, monument, memorials and galleries of this historic city. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr

Discover Harry Potter’ “birthplace”, Elephant House in Edinburgh. Photo Credit: Wendy Nordvik-Carr

Irvine Welsh writes plays, novels and short stories and is also a film director. His novel “Trainspotting” was made into a film.

“Writing is about culture and should be about everything. That’s what makes it what it is.” – Irvine Welsh

Alexander McCall Smith is a writer of over 100 books ranging from novels, fiction, academic texts and children’s books. Two of his most popular series are “44 Scotland Street” and The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency”

“We don’t forget…. Our heads may be small, but they are as full of memories as the sky may sometimes be full of swarming bees, thousands and thousands of memories, of smells, of places, of little things that happened to us and which came back, unexpectedly, to remind us who we are.” – Alexander McCall Smith

If you are interested in knowing more about Scotland’s famous authors read the free Scottish Literature eBook.

Check out Edinburgh’s official guide to six literary attractions.

Discover more about Scotland

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