Scottish literature dates back to well before the medieval ages, and there have been plenty of prolific writers throughout the centuries.
Many Scottish writers produced works in English in addition to the native languages such as Scottish Gaelic and Scots.
Each era was defined by different writing styles that were influenced by a few talented authors. Overall, Scotland’s most famous writers are from the 18th and 19th century periods. Robert Burns and Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson are some of the most recognizable names in Scottish literature.
Born in the small village of Alloway, Robert Burns has risen to iconic status in Scotland and beyond. You may
be surprised to learn that one of Scotland’s most famous writers actually wrote poems rather than novels. Burns also had musical creativity, and he integrated traditional folk songs into his poems. For example, his poem “Auld Lang Syne” has been carefully written to match the musical notes of an old folk song. Written in 1788 in the Scots language, this melodic poem has become part of a New Year’s tradition in Scotland, the United Kingdom, and other countries where English is spoken. “Auld Lang Syne” has also appeared in numerous films throughout the English speaking world. Today, visitors from all over the world pay tribute to Robert Burns in the Burns Cottage Museum, located on a quaint street in his hometown.
During the 19th century of Scottish Literature, Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson was arguably the most prolific writer. Stevenson’s works are a bit more diverse, ranging from novels and poetry to travel guides and historic documentations. Stevenson was naturally an ambitious explorer who loved to travel. In fact, one of his most notable works, Treasure Island, tells the tales of pirate adventures. It’s not surprising that Stevenson’s life ended in Samoa, far away from his birthplace in the capital city of Scotland. Today, Stevenson’s legacy is quite strong, as he is one of the most translated authors worldwide.
[credit: Lenton Sands]