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Biographies of Famous Scots

Robert the Bruce
Robert Burns
Sean Connery
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Famous Scots Authors
Eric Liddell
MacDonalds & Campbells
Rob Roy MacGregor
Charles Rennie Mackintosh
Sir Walter Scott
Adam Smith
Robert Louis Stevenson
Mary, Queen of Scots
William Wallace

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Biographies of Famous Scots

During the Reformation period religious debate was so fierce that most Scots learned to read the Bible for themselves -- exercising the Scottish love of learning and strong tendency to think for themselves. Scotland became one of the most literate nations on earth.

Additionally, Scotland was a poor country, accustomed to sending her sons and daughters out into the wider world to make their way. Courageous, well-educated and forced to compete against the great resources of England, is it any wonder that a list of famous Scots would run into the hundreds?

There are famous Scots scientists -- think of Alexander Fleming, discoverer of penicillin, or Joseph Lister, pioneer in germ warfare. There are great Scots inventors -- Alexander Graham Bell, James Watt, and Sir James Dewar, inventor of the vacumn flask (needed a way to keep the Scotch handy?). And world-reknowned Scots philosophers (David Hume, Adam Smith).

Not content to invent, Scotsmen have a knack for making money as well. Consider Andrew Carnegie or David Jacks, Scots immigrant (born in Crieff) and controversial landowner/dairy farmer in Monterey County, California - yes, the popularizer of Monterey Jack, one of America's favorite cheeses.

Famous Scots have explored the world, noting its natural wonders (John Muir and David Douglas, namer of the Douglas Fir) and bringing their deeply held religious beliefs to people everywhere. Religion has played a vital and ongoing role in Scottish history - producing Christian saints and missionaries from the early days of St. Columba and St. Margaret to the selfless giving of 19th and 20th century missionaries such as David Livingstone, Mary Slessor and Eric Liddell.

Along with their acknowledged gift for music, Scots excel at all the fine arts and have produced some famous actors such as Sean Connery, David Niven, Ewan McGregor, Gerard Butler, and Billy Boyd, not to mention comedian Craig Ferguson and world-famous art nouveau artist and designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.

However, the art of writing is where Scotland really shines - there are so many wonderful and timeless authors born and bred in Scotland that we've created a separate page just for them - please visit Famous Scots Authors to find out more about Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Burns, J. M. Barrie, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Muriel Sparks and many more.

When we read about accomplished people of the past and present, we are inspired to further greatness in our own lives and to take pride in our heritage. We hope you too will be entertained, fascinated and inspired by the "Great Scots" featured on our website.

Please choose from the side bar to your left to read short biographies of some famous scots.

Books about Famous Scots:

Zambezi Expedition - David Livingstone
Zambesi Expedition

Famous Scots explorer and missionary David Livingstone ("Dr. Livingstone, I presume") records his African adventures.

Livingstone's autobiography is entitled The Life and African Exploration of David Livingstone.

Always Inventing
Always Inventing

Alexander Graham Bell's deep concern for teaching the deaf led to his invention of the telephone. A great Scot inventor and humanitarian.

The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie
The Autobiography of Andrew Carnegie

Reviews are mixed - Carnegie lived in very different business times - but it's always fascinating to read what people have to say about themselves.

The Lunar Men
The Lunar Men: Five Friends Whose Curiosity Changed the World

Fascinating new bestseller about how five incredibly talented men - including Scotsman James Watt - shared their lives and ideas in their self-styled "Lunar Society" - and started the Industrial Revolution. Highly recommended.

John Muir: Nature Writings
John Muir : Nature Writings: The Story...

John Muir, the world-renowned conservationist, tells his own stories of adventure in the wilderness. Must reading for Muir admirers and all those with a heart for our environment.

The Life of David Hume
The Life of David Hume

Scotland's premier philosopher. A lively biography - not just for those interested in Hume's philosophy.

John Paul Jones - A Sailor's Biography
John Paul Jones : A Sailor's Biography...

Not all Scots immigrants fought for America during the War for Independence - but John Paul Jones singlehandedly made up for those who didn't!

For Kirk and Covenant - John Knox
For Kirk and Covenant: The Stalwart Courage of John Knox

One of a very engaging series of biographies, written from a conservative Christian viewpoint.

The Doctor and the Detective : A Biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
The Doctor and the Detective : A Biography of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

by Martin Booth
A 5-star biography of a most fascinating individual - Conan Doyle's life was as interesting and unique as his stories.

The Great Feud - Campbells and MacDonalds
The Great Feud : The Campbells & the MacDonalds

By Oliver Thomson
Entertaining, if not always perfectly accurate, telling of the legendary feud - right into the 20th century. Lots of pictures and lists of famous Campbells and MacDonalds.

God's Joyful Runner - Biography of Eric Liddell
God's Joyful Runner

One of our personal heroes, Scots Olympic runner Eric Liddell was made famous in the movie Chariots of Fire. This 5-star biography of Eric Liddell is the best of the several biographies available.

Mary Queen of Scots by Fraser
Mary Queen of Scots

Antonia Fraser's "must-read" classic biography of Mary Queen of Scots

Robert the Bruce King of Scots
Robert the Bruce : King of Scots

by Ronald McNair Scott
Readable, entertaining biography of Robert Bruce. A good choice if you buy just one.

Dirt and Deity : A Life of Robert Burns
Dirt & Deity : Life of Robert Burns

By Ian McIntyre
Well respected and readable biography of Robert Burns. The title comes from a quote about Burns by Lord Byron.

Louis : A Life of Robert Louis Stevenson
Louis : A Life of Robert Louis Stevenson

5-star biography of Robert Louis Stevenson by Philip Callow. Highly recommended.

Biography of Rob Roy MacGregor
Rob Roy MacGregor : His Life & Times

by W. H. Murray
This is the definitive biography of Highland hero Rob Roy MacGregor. 5 stars, highly recommended.

William Wallace:  Braveheart
William Wallace : Brave Heart

James A. MacKay's biography of William Wallace - as close to true history as available resources allow

Sean Connery A Biography
Sean Connery : A Biography

by Bob McCabe
Photographic biography captures the life and times of this talented and much respected actor. 5 stars.

Some Famous Scots Actors:
Billy Boyd
Gerard Butler
Sir Sean Connery
Tom Conti
Craig Ferguson
Douglas Henshall
Deborah Kerr
James McAvoy
David McCallum
Ewan McGregor
Ian Richardson
David Tennant

The Mark of the Scots
The Mark of the Scots : Their Astonishing Contributions to History, Science, Democracy, Literature and the Arts

Makes you proud to be Scot!

The Scottish 100
The Scottish 100: Portraits of History's Most Influential Scots

Includes those famous Scots born outside of Scotland

How the Scots Invented the Modern World
How the Scots Invented the Modern World:...

By Arthur Herman
This book is a best-seller and no wonder - talk about "ego feed" for anyone with Scots blood. Still, who can resist? And, of course, it's all true!
From the flap: "Who formed the first modern nation?
Who created the first literate society?
Who invented our modern ideas of democracy and free market capitalism?
The Scots."

Selkirk's Island
Selkirk's Island

True (and sometimes hard to take) story of Scots seaman and pirate, Alexander Selkirk, who survived for four years on a remote island off the coast of Chile in the early 1700s. Daniel Defoe based Robinson Crusoe on Selkirk's adventure. Well-researched with very lively and engrossing writing.


Everything you need or want to know about the Scottish people and Scotland throughout history - legends and myths, traditions and customs, tartans and clans, biographies of famous Scots and Scots authors, books about Scotland, Scottish holidays, including Samhain and the celtic history of Halloween, Christmas in Scotland and Hogmanay (three-day New Year's celebration), celtic music, traditional folk and Scottish bagpipe music, Celtic Christmas music, documentary videos, DVDs about Scotland and Scottish movies, entertaining Scottish history essays and information, Celtic Christianity and medieval calligraphy, Celtic mythology and religion, books, Scottish cooking, beautiful scenic Scotland calendars, Scottish and Celtic crafts, Scottish fold cats and Scottish dog breeds, and more on Scottish ancient culture and history.