Harpies, Fechters and Quines 2018 – Women, War and the Book

Monday’s launch of the Harpies, Fechters and Quines festival saw the annual 2 week programme of events off to a flying start!

Edinburgh Libraries is working in association with the Bonnie Fechters, a local women’s group, and with Scotland’s War, the Glasgow Women’s Library, the Scottish Poetry Library and the Workers’ Educational Association to deliver a range of activities. These include talks, workshops, an exhibition, a film and a concert.  As a result, there are lots of opportunities to come along and join in.

Tapestry kindly loaned for display by the Workers’ Educational Association stitchers (Mezzanine, Central Library)

Whether you want to sing along at the Lena Ashwell concert, produce some creative writing, experience early film or simply look at the commemorative tapestries you are warmly welcome. You’ll find details of all the forthcoming events at www.edinburghreads.eventbrite.co.uk.



A Woman’s Place art exhibition

This month’s exhibition in the Art & Design Library is by Julie Galante and is entitled     A Woman’s Place: an exploration of home and belonging.

Julie is a painter and mixed-media artist based in Stockbridge, Edinburgh. Her artwork focuses on people and places real and imagined. As someone who has lived in several different countries, she is particularly intrigued by the ways in which one’s location can affect a person’s inner and outer life.

The exhibition works started out as a study of the relationships between people and places: how one’s location and proximity to other people affects one’s mental state and well-being. The themes and subjects have grown and developed with the events of the past year. Julie explained to where the inspiration for her work had come from –

“The power of groups of women became evident to me in the women’s marches taking place all over the world, as well as in the close-knit group of female friends who supported me through my husband’s leukemia diagnosis and treatment. His death in April of this year left me reeling, person-less and place-less. Much of the artwork I have created since then is an exploration of my new role of young widow. And finally, many of the pieces in this exhibition celebrate Edinburgh, the city in which I know I belong. There is very little certainty in my life right now, but one thing I know for sure is that this city is my home”.

A Woman’s Place can be viewed within the Art & Design Library, Central Library from   2 – 30 August.




City Garden event at Central Library

New PictureThe City Garden Project is a proposed urban greenspace project to improve the quality and quantity of ‘little green spaces’ across Edinburgh. So much space in the city is under used, from grass-desert parks to concrete traffic islands, the forgotten shoreline to featureless street
corners; this project is about revealing their potential for creative and green space uses!

City GardenCome along to the Central Lending Library on 30 September any time between 12 noon and 3pm and meet the team from HERE + NOW, the landscape and design studio behind the City Garden project. You’ll be able to see examples of their previous projects and find out more about the City Garden idea. Most of all they’d love you to share your ideas for a City Garden Project and how you’d like to activate unused spaces. You will be able to mark places which could be a potential City Garden you know of on a map. This can be everything from a vacant or abandoned area to a neglected street corner.

Why not drop-in and help make Edinburgh an even greener city!


Happy Read an eBook Day!

Today is the third annual International Read an eBook Day and you’re all invited to take part!  Read an eBook Day is a yearly celebration of modern story telling. It’s a day dedicated to promoting the convenience, capability and excitement that digital reading provides.

RAEBD---Social media image 2_504x504OverDrive, our eBook supplier, are encouraging people to use the hashtag #eBookLove today on social media to be entered into the  chance of winning a free tablet.

Visit the Read an eBook Day website for more information. There you’ll find reading recommendations, links to social media posts, a place to share what you’re reading and even interviews with authors who are participating in Read an eBook Day.

Show your #eBookLove all day long and join us in celebrating the ability to read anytime, anywhere!

Upcoming talks and workshops


Our events calendar has details of what’s happening in libraries over the next couple of months. Here are a few of the highlights:

Alison Demarco: The Signature from Tibet

Wednesday 11th May, 2.30pm. Free – book online

Alison Demarco’s The Signature of Tibet is a breathtaking four-part, epic fictional story inspired by true events and follows the lives of four main, inspirational characters: The Soldier, Pembuti, Anne, and Palden.  Spanning the Highlands of Scotland to the remote and isolated Lowlands of Tibet, the book travels back in time to 1904 when a young Scottish soldier enters Tibet with the British Expedition.  Signature From Tibet is a must-read for anyone seeking spiritual enlightenment—or would just like to share in a fantastic journey the likes of which they’re unlikely to ever encounter again!

Edinburgh Tales: Charles Piazzi Smyth

Wednesday 18th May, 2.30pm. Free – book online

Charles Piazzi Smyth was appointed as Astronomer Royal for Scotland in 1846, where he was based at the Calton Hill Observatory. Bruce Vickery will be talking about the context of Smyth’s arrival in Edinburgh as Scotland’s second Astronomer Royal, and about some of his multi-faceted activities while in this post. Bruce is a retired mathematical physicist with an interest in astronomy and its heritage in Edinburgh.

The Waves Burn Bright by Iain Maloney

Tuesday 24th May, 6.30pm. Free – book online
In 1988 the Piper Alpha oil platform exploded killing 167 men. The Waves Burn Bright is a deeply affecting, sensitive portrait of its devastating aftermath on one family.
Author Iain Maloney talks about his new novel, which is based on this tragic event. His other novels are  First Time Solo and Silma Hill. He was also shortlisted for the Dundee International Book Prize and in 2014 he was shortlisted for the Guardian Not The Booker prize.


Monday 30th May, 6.00pm. Free – book online

Whither ettlin tae write in Scots frae the affset, or whither aready applying yer creative skeels tae the leid, the Scrieve-It workshoap will luik tae weys o explorin an developin new or existin writin in Scots, wi the National Library o Scotland’s resident Scots Scriever, Hamish MacDonald.

Former Robert Burns Writing Fellow for Dumfries and Galloway, Joint Artistic Director of Dogstar Theatre Company and Director of Moniack Mhor Writers’ Centre, Hamish has written numerous warks in Scots includin plays, fiction and also bairns’ verse, short stories and a teenage novella for Scots imprint Itchy Coo Publishing.

How to promote your book

Thursday 2nd June, 2.30pm. Free – book online

Are you an aspiring, small or self-published writer and want to know how to promote your book?  Come along and learn how to put together a basic campaign that is sure to get you started.

Diane Hinds is an experienced entertainment PR who has taught Campaigning & Persuasive Skills at the University of Westminster, on its BA: Public Relations & Advertising course and is a frequent Guest Visitor at Victoria Zackheim’s Personal Essay Writing course, part of UCLA’s Extension programme.

Magnus Linklater – Little Sparta, a guide to the garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay

Wednesday 15th June at 6.30pm. Free – book online

Chairman of the Little Sparta Trust, Magnus Linklater discusses Jessie Sheeler’s publication ‘Little Sparta – a Guide to the Garden of Ian Hamilton Finlay’. Ian Hamilton Finlay’s garden in the Pentland Hills, near Edinburgh, is widely regarded as one of the most significant gardens in Britain. In addition to being a spectacular example of garden design, it also features almost 300 art works by Finlay and others which form an integral part of the garden scheme.

The guide tells the story of Ian Hamilton Finlay’s extraordinary creation, exploring the underlying themes, and introducing and explaining the significance of the main elements and art works in each part of the garden. The publication also features new photographs by photographer Robin Gillanders as well as archival material.




Inside Edinburgh Reads

AlexanderMcCallSmithOver the last few years Edinburgh Libraries have played host to a number of great author events under the banner of Edinburgh Reads.  We caught up with Edinburgh Reads supremo Annie Bell to find out more:

Could you describe Edinburgh Reads?
Put simply Edinburgh Reads is our brand name for author events in Edinburgh Libraries.  They take place in Central Library and in community libraries across the city. We attract well-known authors and debut writers.  Our events have been well attended with crowds of up to 150 on some occasions.

What would someone expect from an Edinburgh Reads event?
It’s a great way to meet like-minded people, to get together as a group and listen to great authors read and talk about their work.  People can ask their own questions and it’s a very sociable occasion too giving people a chance to enjoy a glass of wine and generally share their love of books and reading.  It also has a great impact on the library in terms of getting more people through the door and as a way to remind people of the important role libraries play in their community.

Does Edinburgh Reads have an online presence?
We have filmed most of our events and also have an in-house photographer to take photos and the resulting media can be accessed through our social media channels. We’ve built up an amazing collection of authors that have visited over the last few years. As well as providing a great archive it also helps us reach a much wider audience. Who knew someone from Venezuela would be interested in our videos?

What have been the highlights so far?
There’s been so many highlights. It’s the best part of my job, I love hosting these events, meeting authors and hearing what they have to say.  Particular favourites have been Jane Harris who was here recently, she wrote Gillespie and I which is a favourite among our book-groups.  She was a marvellous speaker. She’d studied drama previously so she was able to put on different voices as she read and really brought her novels alive.  She was funny, lively and great at answering the audiences questions.

Another author who was excellent was John Cairney.  We had him last year as part of our Previously history festival.  John talked about the life of Robert Louis Stevenson and he had the audience in the palm of his hand. They were spellbound.

Which author, alive or dead, would you most like to invite to an Edinburgh Reads event and why?
I’d love to get Hilary Mantell. She wrote Wolf Hall and Bringing up the Bodies both of which were awarded The Man Booker Prize.  She’s a marvellous writer and does fantastic research. She’s quite hard to get hold of as well so that’s another reason. I think it’d create quite a stir among our reading community in Edinburgh.

Up coming events include Christopher Brookmyre (tonight!) and then again at South Queensferry on Mon Nov 11th. Then we have Donald Smith and Kirsty Gunn in November with Edinburgh’s Makar Ron Butlin following in December. Damien Barr, Andrew O’Hagan and Val McDiarmid are due to appear in the new year.

Tickets and a list of forthcoming events in libraries are available by visiting our Eventbrite page.  Videos from previous events can be viewed on our You Tube channel.

“Every man has a sane spot somewhere”

As you know, Robert Louis Stevenson is one of Edinburgh’s greatest literary treasures.  So how come we celebrate Burns and not him?  Our friends at UNESCO City of Literature and Napier University have decided to remedy that, and are hosting some fun activities to launch the inaugural Robert Louis Stevenson Day!  Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature are putting on a host of wonderful events  for their brand new Robert Louis Stevenson day.  For starters, follow #rlsday on twitter to keep up with the latest buzz!

Robert Louis Stevenson was proud and opinionated about his home town, so Picturesque notes from RLS’s oeuvre will be appearing at special locations on the streets of Edinburgh.

If you have a smartphone, follow QR codes to get involved with an innovative online literary trail, hosted on the UNESCO City of Literature’s website.  You might even win free copies of Kidnapped and Jekyll and Hyde!

RLS at 7 years old

As if that wasn’t enough Robert Louis Stevenson goodness, Previously… Scotland’s History Festival and Napier University’s Centre for Literature and Writing (aka the fantastic acronym CLAW…) have joined forces to bring Edinburgh favourite Ian Rankin and Young Ones funnyman Nigel Planer together for “A Robert Louis Stevenson Evening” on Thursday 17th, at the  City Arts Centre.

If you’ve not managed to reserve your place for this incredibly popular event, you can still get your name on a waiting list and hope for the best!  Email events@napier.ac.uk.

RLS aged 20, already knee-deep in velvet.

We’ve got even more suggestions for activities to do, to further immerse yourself in the world of Robert Louis Stevenson!

Read all about his life on the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Find his works on our literary map of Edinburgh!

A map of Treasure Island

If you’ve read everything of his (really?!), tuck into Who Else Writes Like to get recommendations of writers inspired by the illustrious Scot.

RLS, pictured with family and staff, on a visit to Peebles

For a further peek into his world, have a look at our Robert Louis Stevenson exhibitions, hosted on Capital Collections.  Visit the official RLS website, explore this comprehensive exhibition on the geography of his Edinburgh life, or his Pacific adventures!

An ailing RLS finds solace in music, Waikiki 1889

And finally, why not pop into Central Library’s Edinburgh and Scottish Collection, where you will find many works by and about the man himself – see our extensive selection of work here!

The 30-strong Robert Louis Stevenson Collection

Recommended Reading

Robert Louis Stevenson: writer of boundaries by Richard Ambrosini and Richard Dury

On the Trail of Robert Louis Stevenson by John Cairney

Louis: a life of Robert Louis Stevenson by Phillip Callow

Robert Louis Stevenson: a biography by F.J. McLynn

Narrating Scotland: the imagination of Robert Louis Stevenson by Barry Menikoff

Dreams of Elsewhere: the selected travel writings of Robert Louis Stevenson

RLS in love: the love poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson

Selected letters of Robert Louis Stevenson

The Stevenson Library of E.J. Beinecke