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Favourite Scottish writers?

VisitScotlandJulieVisitScotlandJulie Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
I would love to know who your favourite Scottish writers are. There are plenty to choose from. Perhaps I can discover a new writer to fall in love with.

My favourite is Lewis Grassic Gibbon (also known as James Leslie Mitchell). He was born in Auchterless in 1901 and is most known for his now classic trilogy A Scots Quair. I'm very proud to be a relative of his but I would love his work anyway <3 . If you read one book from him, make it Sunset Song. It perfectly captures the time and place of the North East of Scotland during World War 1 through the eyes of a young woman Chris Guthrie. You can also visit the Grassic Gibbon Centre in Arbuthnott (25 miles from Aberdeen) to find out more about his life and works.

Ivor Cutler is also a particular favourite of mine - pretty surreal but very funny.

I'd love to know your favourites, old and new, alive or dead.


  • VisitScotlandSheenaVisitScotlandSheena Member, VisitScotland Staff
    edited May 2016
    Hi @VisitScotlandJulie - you're right, there are so many to choose from!

    If you're looking for some suggestions, check out the brilliant Timeline of Scottish Literature eBook which highlights a few of the country's literary greats through the ages.

    You'll also find suggested attractions connected to the different authors, so you can follow in their footsteps and see what inspired them too.
  • VisitScotlandHeatherVisitScotlandHeather Member ✭✭✭
    It's got to be JK Rowling!  She used to live in my part of town (Edinburgh) so it was quite common to see her wandering around, minding her own business. I also love how the Elephant House on George IV Bridge is now known as the "birthplace of Harry Potter".
  • VisitScotlandJoanneVisitScotlandJoanne Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    Josephine Tey was a crime/mystery novelist from Inverness whose books are currently on my to-read list! There was recently a celebration of her work at Inverness Museum & Art Gallery where they had an exhibition featuring her personal items and a lecture from her biographer to launch her new book 'Josephine Tey: A Life' - another book also on my to-read list! :smiley:
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  • LeodhasachLeodhasach Member ✭✭
    Iain Banks or Iain M Banks depending whether you're reading his sci-fi stuff or other fiction. I love sci-fi and his Culture novels are some of the most original in the genre. They tend to be quite long books too which is always comforting, I can never be doing with wee 150 page novellas :smiley:

    For music reviews and previews in Inverness and the Highlands:
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  • laretourlaretour VisitScotland Contributor ✭✭
    @VisitScotlandJulie SUCH a good question! I love talking about books just as much as I love talking about Scotland (or maybe more...  :p

    A few of my favourites are Alasdair Gray, Louise Welsh and Ali Smith. Alasdair Gray is a bit of a legend, and - along with his novels - he's also designed the Hillhead Subway mural and Oran Mor ceiling in Glasgow along with other artworks! My partner used to see him all the time in Glasgow's west end and to say I was jealous is a mild understatement. Welsh and Smith are also great writers; Welsh's work is gritty whilst Smith's is really poetic and pushes boundaries.

    Another fantastic novelist who writes beautifully about Scotland is Maggie O'Farrell. Although she isn't Scottish, she was brought up in the country and so a fair few of her novels are set in, or partly based, in Scotland. One of my favourites is 'The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox', which is set in Edinburgh. I'm not one for re-reading but her writing is so simple yet evocative that you always discover something new when you go back!

    P.S. Shamefully I've never read LGG... Bad Scot?! 
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  • LeodhasachLeodhasach Member ✭✭
    laretour said:

    P.S. Shamefully I've never read LGG... Bad Scot?!

    Nope. Overrated in my opinion.  :)

    For music reviews and previews in Inverness and the Highlands:
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  • OutandaboutElaineOutandaboutElaine Member ✭✭✭
    Val McDermid Scottish crime writer best known for a series of suspense novels featuring Dr. Tony Hill are worth checking out. Agree with @laretour
     on Ali Smith's books definitely worth a read. 
  • VisitScotlandEstherVisitScotlandEsther Administrator, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    edited August 2016
    Ooh, I love Alasdair Gray's Lanark, and Ian Banks. If you're into nature and wildness, I read Gavin Maxwell's Ring of bright water when I was about 12,  and have loved it ever since. It's about a man living in near isolation with two beautiful otters, with lovely descriptions of the Scottish landscape.
  • thesugger76thesugger76 Member
    I'm a big fan of Ian Rankin and the Rebus novels - great read.  I also like the Stuart Macbride books
  • ElaineRElaineR VisitScotland Contributor ✭✭✭
    Alistair Moffat paints many wonderful historical pictures of the Scottish Borders through the narratives in his books
  • I'm going to go with non-fiction and suggest John Muir. Though the father of the National Parks in the USA he was born here in Scotland and has very interesting views on nature, conservation and wilderness. I've read some of his work as university research but hope to read more for interest. 

    Check out the tinberry travels - sharing stories, adventures and travel related nonsense as I explore the world bit by bit

    Find me on twitter & instagram

  • HammyHammy Member ✭✭
    Christopher Brookmyre is great. Such funny and quirky crime novels. I'd recommend either Quite Ugly One Morning or One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night. 
  • Try Katherine Stewart's A Croft in the Hills. A classic of its genre.
  • VisitScotlandJulieVisitScotlandJulie Member, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    Thanks everyone. My list of books to read is getting longer by the day.  :)
  • raynaydayraynayday Member
    Ian Banks, of course, Margaret Skea and Nigel Tranter, if you like historical fiction, as I do, For Faerie tales and fantasy try Robert Anderson or Raymond Walker and there are oh so many more but I think I would bore you to death.
  • ScottieDollScottieDoll Member
    For me it has to be Robert Louis Stevenson. 'Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!' :)
  • KatieMacLeodKatieMacLeod Member
    Ooh I agree with @laretour - I love Ali Smith! I also read a lot of Jenny Colgan's novels (her most recent one was set in the Scottish countryside), and two good fiction writers from Lewis are Kevin MacNeil ('The Stornoway Way' is a favourite), and Malcolm Mackay - his crime trilogy set in Glasgow will have you on the edge of your seat!
    Journalist & Travel Blogger
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  • IzzwizzIzzwizz Member
    All suggestions I have seen so far are great. Hadn't heard of one or two writers so off to find them now. But don't forget Peter May. The Hebridean trilogy and Entry Island in particular are great and I love the Enzo Macleod character and series. Great summer reads. 
  • 3penny3penny Member
    One of my favourites which hasn't been mentioned yet is Neil Gunn.  Butcher's Broom, Sun Circle and Silver Darlings must be the ones I prefer.  All set in the North East of Scotland.
  • FishjaggerFishjagger Member ✭✭
    @VisitScotlandJohn I used to work in that Black Medicine coffee Co. On the corner of Nicholson st/Drummond street many years ago while a student and not long after the first Harry Potter book came out. Her brother in law was one of the owners I believe, so she was well looked after to write that first chapter. Loved working there - every piece of furniture hand made also in Scotland! 
  • FishjaggerFishjagger Member ✭✭
    Would have to be Ian Rankin with Rebus. Especially when living overseas to read about "Edinburgh" as I knew it! 
  • BushmanBushman Member ✭✭
    Well why not try Thomas the rhymer. Fascinating character. Based on an actual person who hailed from the Borders village of Earlston known as Erceldoune in the 13th century.
  • SuzieDSuzieD Member ✭✭
    edited August 2016
    I love Christopher Brookmyre's novels, because I can recognise many of the locations, even East Kilbride in one of them!! Peter May's Hebrides books are very evocative. For detective stories, Rebus of course, and James Oswald's DI McLean books.
  • ShetlandSophShetlandSoph Member ✭✭
    A very popular writer in recent times has been Ann Cleeves, although she is not a Scottish writer, she did live in Fair Isle for a while. Her crime thrillers were based here in Shetland which were then turned into an even more popular tv series shown all over the world! We have many tourists and locals alike intrigued as to where DI Jimmy Perez' house (the main character) is located, and finding out where some iconic buildings were such as; The Lounge, the Sumburgh Hotel and even the police station!  
  • BertVerninskBertVerninsk Member ✭✭
    Gibbon is a true favorite Scottish writer of mine since learning of his life and works at school.. But to choose just one Scot literary writer between various periods in Scottish history with favor is difficult. Thrre that sum up recent time of literature for me would be Stevenson, Scott and Oor Bard Burns! Most importantly their lives make the books they wrote ans just like Mitchel which is what I respect about them. Robert Louis Stevensons Treasure island is my fav.
    Where wit may sparkle all its rays,
    Uncurs’d with caution’s fears;
    That pleasure, basking in the blaze, Rejoice for endless years. (R.B)
  • FofomaFofoma Member ✭✭✭
    A favourite of mine is James Oswald - he's a farmer from Fife whose character Insp Tony MacLean is also an Edinburgh Detective - like the Rebus books I love hearing the Edinburgh locations mentioned and I can just picture them in my minds eye. 
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