Rooftops and chimneys of Writers Museum in Edinburgh
Credit: Edinburgh Museums

Writers’ Museum

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Writers’ Museum, Lady Stair’s Close, Edinburgh, EH1 2PA

The Writers’ Museum focuses on the lives of three of the most celebrated writers in Scottish history. Robert Burns, Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. Collections on display include personal items, portraits, manuscripts and first editions of their books.

Robert Burns

Robert Burns is regarded as Scotland’s national poet – there is even a celebration known as Burns Night held in his honour every January. He is known for writing the infamous ‘Auld Lang Syne’ which people sing around the world to welcome in the New Year, ‘Scots Wha Hae’, ‘A Red, Red Rose’, ‘Tam o’ Shanter’ and many more. The museum holds a collection of portraits, a rare cast of his skull and his writing desk. In addition to personal letters he wrote to friends and a hand-written manuscript of the poem ‘Scots Wha Hae’. In partnership with other Burns displays, it is a Recognised Collection of National Significance.

Walter Scott

Sir Walter Scott is one of Edinburgh’s most famous writers. The affection the Scottish people had for him is demonstrated by the impressive Scott Monument, which they erected in his memory in 1844. He wrote the famous novels ‘Ivanhoe’, ‘Rob Roy’ and also ‘The Lady of the Lake’ and ‘Waverley’. At the museum, you can see the printing press which produced some of his novels and a first edition of ‘Waverley’. There’s also a portrait by Sir Francis Grant showing him writing his last novel, his dining table, rocking horse, chess set and personal letters.

R L Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson is another much-admired and celebrated writer from Edinburgh. He’s famous for the classic novels ‘Treasure Island’, ‘Kidnapped’ and ‘The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde’. The museum displays an original copy of his earliest work ‘The Pentland Rising’, a first edition of ‘A Child’s Garden of Verses’, an original illustration for ‘Kidnapped’ by William Boucher, a section of his journal, his ring, fishing rod and basket. There is also a wide collection of photographs, printed works and other material.

Makars’ Court

As well as the indoor exhibitions, the museum has a beautiful public outdoor space known as the Makars’ Court. (Makar is the Scots word for poet or author). It has engraved flagstones on the ground, which represent many Scottish writers from the 14th century until the present day. Furthermore, the museum adds new stones regularly, so the monument is constantly evolving.

Visiting the Writers’ Museum

Admission to the museum is free, but they accept donations. See the Edinburgh Museums website for more information.