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Category: Biography, United Kingdom

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For the last decade of the nineteenth century and at least the first two decades of the twentieth, Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) was one of the most popular writers in the English language, in both prose and verse. He was among the last British poets to command a mass audience, appealing to readers of all social classes and ages. Although his few novels, except Kim , were only a mixed success, in the medium of the short story Kipling extended the range of English fiction in both subject matter and technique and perhaps did more than any other author in the English language to blur the division between popular and high art. Rudyard Kipling: The Books I Leave Behind , an exhibition held in 2007, was the first comprehensive show to be presented anywhere in over fifty years.

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886 reads

Marking 100 years since H.H. Asquith became Prime Minister 100 years ago H.H. Asquith (1852-1928) became Prime Minister. In continuous office for over eight years from 1908 to 1916, he was at the helm of a government which re-modelled the British political landscape and introduced innovatory social measures. The introduction of old age pensions, national insurance, and employment exchanges, and the reform of the House of Lords, are among the developments chronicled in Asquith's papers and those of his political colleagues held at the Bodleian . Long standing issues such as Irish home rule and women's suffrage also had to be addressed.

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866 reads

In 1603, two very different nations were brought together by the curious fact that they only had one monarch between them.

On the death of England's Queen Elizabeth I without children, the next in line to the throne was the reigning king of Scotland, King James VI. James won the backing of the English establishment as he was a Protestant, he had sons who could be king after him, and his 36-year rule in Scotland had largely been a success.

However, he was also a Scot, who spoke a different language and had a different cultural background. How would he be able to bring the two countries together?

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742 reads

Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh’s New Town in 1850. He died 44 years later on a small Samoan island in the Pacific.

During his short life he travelled the world, defied convention, and made himself one of the most famous writers of the 19th century.

Here we tell Stevenson's story, illustrated with material held in the National Library of Scotland's collections.

You can also see the entire first English edition of Kidnapped – one of his most famous tales – published in 1886.

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810 reads

This site features a selection of leading Scottish writers, photographed in a 30-year period by Edinburgh publisher and photographer Gordon Wright. It is based on an exhibition held at the National Library of Scotland in 2001.

Gordon Wright's photographs featured in 'The Write Stuff' are in copyright. For permission to use them, and to order print or digital copies, please email Gordon Wright.

Texts by Jennie Renton, editor of 'The Scottish Book Collector'.

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945 reads

Muriel Spark was identified as a promising and creative writer when her name was still Muriel Camberg and she was still at school. Some of her poems had already been published by the time she won her first poetry prize, at the age of 12.

Dame Muriel – poet, writer of fiction and literary criticism, and biographer – went on to win most of the literary awards going, was never out of print, and was at the top of her profession, internationally, for more than half a century.

Best-known as the author of 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie', Muriel decided in the 1940s to keep a record of her professional and personal activities, beginning a personal archive that is now one of the largest and most comprehensive held by the National Library of Scotland.

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808 reads

Robert Burns was born into a farming family at Alloway in Ayrshire in 1759. He died in Dumfries at the early age of 37. Yet in that short time he had taken the Scottish literary world by storm, and had secured a place for himself in history and in legend.

This site is based on material by or relating to 'Scotland's Bard' which is held by the National Library of Scotland (except where otherwise stated).

Special features are pages giving highlights of the Library's significant resources – whether original letters or poems (see Manuscripts page) or important books (see Books page).

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936 reads

This exploration of the life of Sir Winston Churchill has been created by the National Library of Scotland and the Churchill Archives Centre, and is based on a major exhibition in the National Library of Scotland in the summer of 1999. It uses original documents and photographs to tell the story of one of the twentieth century's most important figures.

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879 reads