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He is perhaps Scotland's best known and celebrated philosopher and is credited with sowing the seeds of modern Sociology. His 'Treatise of Human Nature' is one of the most important books of Western Philosophy ever written. Incredibly he began writing it when he was only 16 years old and finally completed the work 10 years later. His book comprised enquiries into the human mind, emotion and how society operated. As an atheist and a sceptic he promoted the actions of reasoning, observation and the experimental method onto moral subjects of his time.

Considered controversial among academic circles he was denied a seat at Edinburgh University because of his views. However a lasting tribute from the city is the fabulous Roman style Mausoleum in the Old Calton Cemetery over his burial place of Adam Smith , born in in Kirkaldy in Fife, was another thinker and writer who is still widely regarded and followed to this day. In the field of economics his seminal book 'The Wealth of Nations' published in is a classic. He also became firm friends with David Hume who was 10 years his senior. Smith invented the term "the invisible hand" in referring to the free market and which is still quoted today particularly among his admirers in modern liberal economic ideology.

He delivered public lectures in Edinburgh from and in became a member of the Edinburgh Philosophical Society. He died in and is buried in the Canongate Kirkyard off the Royal Mile in the city. Also born in Adam Ferguson became a philosopher and historian. His most important work came in with his 'Essay on the History of Civil Society' which became widely read in Europe. It was translated into German and is reckoned to have influenced the thinking of Karl Marx and Georg Hegel.

Ferguson traveled widely and became involved with various political and philosophical and contemporary political issues. In particular his criticism of the American Revolution in William Robertson , born , was an historian and the Principal of Edinburgh University. Born later in Dugald Stewart had been a student of Adam Ferguson. A brilliant polymath he became a Professor of Mathematics at the age of 25 at Edinburgh University. He was a philosopher of the 'common-sense' school inspired by Thomas Reid although he retained a critical approach.

He occupied the Chair of Moral Philosophy at the University for 25 years until his retirement from teaching in I felt that I had a soul". Dugald Stewart's opinion of Philosophy was that it should "diffuse as widely as possible a degree of cultivation" In his memory there is a prominent Greek style monument to him that stands on Calton Hill in the Edinburgh.

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With reputation secured by his 'The Life of Samuel Johnson' the lawyer and diarist James Boswell has had his name enter the English language. Born in Edinburgh in the term 'Boswellian' refers to a constant companion and observer of record. This was the basis of his partnership with Johnson and the subsequent biography of their travels although the latter was scathing about Scotland and its people.

The brilliant circle of the 18th century Edinburgh Literati lived and met under the intellectual leadership of David Hume. They would gather in taverns that were tucked away within the wynds and closes of the medieval Old Town of the city.


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This community became a social and intellectual hub for the thinkers and writers of the city. Conviviality and high-spirited discourse were the order of the day. However one of the most famous of the later Edinburgh Literati was Sir Walter Scott who was born in Guthrie St off the Cowgate and lived from until He was the blockbuster novelist of his day and pioneered the historical novel as a form of literary fiction.

His greatest works include the eternally popular 'Rob Roy' and 'Ivanhoe' , the sword and shield adventures that made him particularly famous. He was also a poet and a great social campaigner being a passionate supporter of the Monarchy and the Union of Great Britain. Ironically his first series of books 'The Waverley Novels' were written anonymously.

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He worked in legal circles and was a lawyer, an advocate and a sheriff at various stages. Therefore writing works of fiction was considered beneath a man of such standing in his early writing career. A contemporary and acquaintance of Scott was another great writer called James Hogg. Although born in Ettrick in the Scottish Borders, he relocated to Edinburgh in to further his literary career. One of the greatest and most popular writers worldwide to have graced the Edinburgh literary scene was Robert Louis Stevenson.

His exciting adventure books such as ''The Master of Ballantrae', Kidnapped' and 'Treasure Island' have been read by both young and old all over the world. He was born in Edinburgh in and although from a family of engineers his talents were for the flowing pen. It struck a chord with its story of good and evil. It has been the subject of many TV and movie adaptations ever since with its powerful message of the duality of man.

It was loosely based on the infamous William Brodie, an Edinburgh notable of the late 18th century who led a secret life as a burglar in the dead of night. He was born there in from an Irish-Catholic family who were prosperous although Doyle's early life was bedevilled by an alcoholic father. Despite studying medicine at the city university he went on to find fame and fortune writing the legendary series of Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories.

However it is also reckoned that one of his medical teachers had an unintended influence on his writing. A Dr Joseph, Bell who was a brilliant observationist of logic, deduction, and diagnosis, apparently provided the inspiration for Holmes. In creating probably the greatest fictional detective in history Conan Doyle would surely rank among the highest of the Edinburgh Literati. He died of a heart attack in at his house in Crowborough, East Sussex in England. Also born in was Kenneth Graham who's family lived in Castle Street in the centre of the city. The bedtime stories that he had told his young son Alistair eventually became the source of his most famous book.

In 'The Wind in the Willows' was published. It took time to take hold on the public but has proven to be a major success both with children and adults. At the end of the century Naomi Mitchison was born in Edinburgh in although she lived most of her life on the Mull of Kintyre. She published many novels through her long career with her prolific work-rate producing over 70 books in total. She died in at the incredible age of leaving behind great works such as 'The Conquered' , 'Cloud Cuckoo Land' and even a Science Fiction novel called 'Memoirs of a Spacewoman'.

All these venerable institutions are still around today if you wish to soak up the atmosphere of yesteryear or the real ales of today. The atmosphere was captured in Alexander Moffat's imaginary conception of the meeting of the minds. His painting 'Poet's Pub' sets the background as an amalgam of the bars where the famous poets met in Edinburgh. Within the painting you will also find one of Scotland's greatest modern poets.

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He stands on the left with a ubiquitous cigarette in his hand. A colourful character he enjoyed dialogue and debate and often gave popular readings of his work. As a life-long pacifist he was a conscientious objector during World War II. An example of his humour was his description of himself as a "Zen Calvinist" with regards to religion. He passed away in Continuing the tradition of writing in the Scots tongue Sydney Goodsir Smith followed in the footsteps of Fergusson and Burns.

He was actually born in New Zealand in but his family moved to Edinburgh when he was 12 years old and he attended Malvern College before university in Edinburgh and at Oxford. His poem 'Under the Eildon Tree ' published in is considered his masterpeice. He died of a heart attack in and was buried in the Dean Cemetery in the north of the city. Another writer of the Scots language was Robert Garioch born in the capital in However it was his Scottish poems that made his reputation with a passion for social causes and the plight of the ordinary man.

He died in Such was her precocious talent that Muriel Spark was a child poet who had already had her work published whilst still at school. The novel 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie' was published in and was about a flamboyant inspirational school teacher in s Edinburgh.

Miss Brodie's unconventional teachings were a quest to inculcate in her schoolgirls a love of the finer things in art and culture. If there is a more eloquent or more poignant inscription on any war memorial, I have yet to read it. These words conclude each verse of J. And the mad idea came to me to visit Flodden.

I had never been there. It was a mad idea, because the rain was falling, as it can in Scotland, with a grim enthusiasm. In Selkirk the battle is commemorated in the annual Common Riding Festival. In , of the townsmen marched out to fight for their king and it is said only one returned bearing a captured English banner. Written in a very lively style, they are full of history and funny anecdotes. Our visit to Flodden, in , did not last long for it was late when we arrived there and apart from one or two people we were alone on the site.

The car park was rather isolated and someone had warned us that it might not be a good idea to leave our car there, especially with its roof box. It was a pity for we would have liked to follow the trail up the hill. Originally, the walls around the old city of Edinburgh had not been built for defence but as a trade barrier.

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Some said he had retired from the kingdom, and made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Others pretended that in the twilight, when the fight was nigh ended, four tall horsemen came into the field, having each a bunch of straw on the point of their spears, as a token for them to know each other by. They said these men mounted the King on a dun hackney, and that he was seen to cross the Tweed with them at night-fall.

There was, however, not truth in this rumour. It was the absence of this belt of iron which the Scots founded upon to prove that the body of James could not have fallen into the hands of the English, since they either had not that token to show, or did not produce it. They contended, therefore, that the body over which the enemy triumphed was not that of James himself, but of one of his attendants, several of whom, they said, were dressed in his armour.

But it is not unlikely that he would lay aside such a cumbrous article of penance in a day of battle. You can use these HTML tags. Name required. Email will not be published required. Comments Posts.