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Famous Scots Authors

The Scottish people have a long and fine reputation for their strong and vital oral tradition in song and story, as well as their high literacy and keenness for education. Not surprisingly, therefore, Scotland has produced more than its fair share of world-reknowned authors.

Click on the links below to read short biographies of some of the most well-known Scots authors, or scroll down for short mentions of some other outstanding Scottish storytellers and a listing of some of their more popular books and novels.

  • Sir Walter Scott - Sir Walter Scott is known as the father of historical fiction, popularizer of the Highlanders
  • Robert Burns - National Poet of Scotland, we sing Robert Burn's Auld Lang Syne every New Year's Eve
  • Robert Louis Stevenson - Author of Treasure Island, Kidnapped, charming verses for children, and more, Robert Louis Stevenson pined for Scotland even when his health forced him to leave
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle - Elementary, my dear Watson, Conan Doyle was simply the best mystery writer Edinburgh's School of Medicine ever produced!

Other great Scots authors:

  • J. M. Barrie - Author of Peter Pan.
  • Kenneth Grahame - Author of classic children's tale The Wind in the Willows.
  • George MacDonald - 19th century romance for adults and wonderful fairy tales for children. MacDonald greatly influenced C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.
  • Muriel Spark - Her heroine in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie was brought to unforgettable life by Maggie Smith in the wonderful film version.
  • John Buchan - Writing in the first half of the 20th century, his most famous book is the spy novel The 39 Steps.
  • James Boswell - Chronicled the life of Samuel Johnson and their unforgettable journey through the Scottish Highlands.
  • James Herriot - Born in Scotland, but practicing in Northern England, his stories of veterinary practice entertain and enrich adults and children alike.
  • A. J. Cronin - A doctor turned novelist, Cronin's humanist views as expressed in his popular novels helped spur the movement for national health care in Britain
  • Craig Ferguson - Not just a late night talk show host, Ferguson's novel and memoir have both been well-received
  • Alistair MacLean - Famous for his adventure novels, including the Guns of Navarone and Ice Station Zebra
  • Nigel Tranter - Scotland's best known and most prolific historical fiction author, many of his books are featured on other pages on this site

Well-known books by Scots authors:

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

By Muriel Spark
Miss Brodie teaches more than academics at a girls' school in 1930s Edinburgh. Dame Maggie Smith won an Oscar for her performance in the film version.

The Annotated Peter Pan (The Centennial Edition)
The Annotated Peter Pan (The Centennial Edition)

By J. M. Barrie
The classic story of the boy who never grew up.

The 39 Steps
The Thirty-Nine Steps

By John Buchan
One of the earliest spy stories - pre-World War I adventure in Scotland. A fun read.

If you perfer the complete Richard Hannay series, it's now available: The Four Adventures of Richard Hannay: The Thirty-Nine Steps/Greenmantle/Mr. Standfast/the Three Hostages

The Wise Woman and Other Stories
The Wise Woman and Other Stories

By George MacDonald
A good collection of MacDonald's shorter fairy tales.

The Reluctant Dragon
Dream Days

By Kenneth Grahame
Several of Grahame's best children's tales, including The Reluctant Dragon - A dragon who won't breathe fire? Our son loved this story when he was small. This is a sequel to The Golden Age, also wonderful.

All Creatures Great and Small
All Creatures Great and Small

by James Herriot
Herriot reminds us that most people are good, animals are delightful and useful gifts from God, and everyday life is worth living well and kindly.

James Herriot's Treasury for Children: Warm and Joyful Tales - our children loved these stories when they were small.

The Complete Sherlock Holmes
The Complete Sherlock Holmes: All 4 Novels and 56 Stories

Wow! Authorized by Holmes' estate, this beautiful and affordable new paperback volume contains everything written by Doyle about Sherlock Holmes. Curl up in a comfy chair and enjoy the same delight Holmes readers have shared for the past 100 years.

Poems and Songs of Robert Burns
Poems and Songs of Robert Burns

Popular selections from Burns' most beloved poems and songs.

Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
Kidnapped

by Robert Louis Stevenson
Kidnapped and sent to be sold as a slave by his greedy uncle, young David Balfour meets up with Highlander Alan Breck Stewart. Their escape and further adventures in the highlands make for a rousing tale. Set during the Jacobite rebellions.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
Treasure Island

By Robert Louis Stevenson
Jim Hawkins has the treasure map and pirate Long John Silver wants it! Stevenson's classic tale of adventure on the high seas.

There is a version for children beautifully illustrated by N.C. Wyeth: Treasure Island

Ivanhoe
Ivanhoe

By Sir Walter Scott
Scott's most well-known work, due to the movies and the appeal of the story. Some consider Ivanhoe his best work. Tale of a knight who comes home from crusade to find he's been disinherited. Originally published in 1819.

The Keys of the Kingdom by A. J. Cronin
The Keys of the Kingdom

By A. J. Cronin
Often considered Cronin's best work, this novel chronicles the life of a humble Scots Catholic priest and his mission to China. Five stars.




American on Purpose LP: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot
American on Purpose LP: The Improbable Adventures of an Unlikely Patriot

By Craig Ferguson
Ferguson's acclaimed autobiographical journey from the mean streets of Glasgow, through drug and alcohol addiction, and eventual emigration to the US.

The Guns of Navarone
The Guns of Navarone

By Alistair MacLean
Who can forget The Guns of Navarone? MacLean's novel is every bit as thrilling and fast-paced as the famous movie based on his novel.

Tales And Traditions of Scottish Castles
Tales And Traditions of Scottish Castles

By Nigel Tranter
Tranter's non-fiction stories are every bit as lively and exciting as his fictional works. Here he tells marvelous stories about 45 Scottish castles.

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