Scotland Writers and Poets

Iain M. Banks (born 1954)
Iain Menzies Banks was born in 1954 in Dunfermline to a sailor. Among other things, he studied English and philosophy in Stirling and now travels a lot around the world. Banks made a living as a nurse and an IBM worker. He then specialized primarily in science fiction novels after he celebrated his international breakthrough with works such as “The Wasp Factory” (1984). His pieces became bestsellers in Great Britain.

JM Barrie (1860-1937)
Sir James Matthew Barrie was a Scottish novelist and playwright. He was born in Kirriemuir in 1860 to a weaver and studied at the University of Edinburgh. Barrie created the famous literary character Peter Pan, who has inspired numerous writers, filmmakers and pop singers. Michael Jackson, for example, saw himself as Peter Pan – a child who never becomes an adult. Barrie died in London in 1937.

James Boswell (1740-1795)
writer and lawyer. James Boswell was born in Edinburgh in 1740 as the son of a judge and studied at the University of Glasgow, among others. The biography “Dr. Samuel Johnson. Life and Opinions” (1791) is one of the most important biographical books in English literature and is about Boswell’s friend. Boswell, who traveled extensively in his life, died in London in 1795. He had a decisive influence on the next generation of writers.

John Buchan (1875-1940)
Buchan was a Scottish writer, journalist, publicist and politician who was born in Perth in 1875. The son of a pastor studied in Oxford, among other places. He wrote the first successful spy novel of the 20th century with the often filmed book “The 39 Steps”. There were also biographies (about Sir Walter Scott, Oliver Cromwell, among others) and adventure novels (e.g. “Drumming about the Transvaal”). Buchan died in Montreal, Canada in 1940. He had also served as Governor of Canada and held the title of 1st Baron Tweedsmuir.

Robert Burns (1759-1796)
Robert Burns was born in Alloway in 1759 to a gardener. The Scottish writer, songwriter and poet wrote exclusively about nature and about his own feelings, that is, he only wrote what he felt and experienced himself. His style of poetry had a great influence on British literature. Burns himself inspired Lord Byron and Percy B. Shelley. Most famous is probably his text “Auld Lang Syne”, which is ritually sung in English-speaking countries on New Year’s Eve. Burns, who was also in the Masonic Lodge, died in Dumfries in 1796.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859-1930)
writer and doctor. Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh in 1859, where he later studied medicine. As a ship’s doctor he traveled around the world and wrote literature on the side. Doyle was the inventor of the world-famous fictional detective character Sherlock Holmes, which brought him great fame during his lifetime. Together with Dr. Watson clarifies numerous tricky cases in London to Holmes. The stories were filmed several times. But historical novels and non-fiction books were also part of the Scot’s repertoire. Doyle died of a heart attack in Crowborough in 1930.

Lewis Grassic Gibbon (1901-1935)
The writer, born James Leslie Mitchell in Aberdeenshire in 1901, wrote a melancholy description of rural life in Scotland, the trilogy “A Scots Quair” (1932-1934), which made him famous at once. In it he also applied the Stream of Consciousness. Before that, however, Gibbon served in the Royal Air Force and was stationed in Iran and Egypt, among others. Gibbon died in Hertfordshire in 1935.

Alistair MacLean (1922-1987)
Alistair MacLean was born the son of a pastor in Glasgow in 1922 and studied at the University of Edinburgh after serving in the Royal Navy. Maclean made a name for himself as a writer of thrillers. The war appears again and again in his works, which became internationally successful. “Rendezvous with Death” (1962) and “Souvenirs” (1969) are among his most important pieces, which were also made into films. Maclean died in 1987 in Munich from years of drinking problems.

John Niven (born 1968)
John Niven was born in Irvine, Scotland, in 1968. After studying in Glasgow, he began working as a manager for various record companies in 1991. But at the end of 2010 he left the music industry and started writing.
He also became known in Germany with his 2005 novel “Kill your friends”. In 2011, his novel “God preserve” was published, in which he expresses himself very critical of religion.

Ian Rankin (born 1960)
Ian Rankin was born in Cardenden in 1960 and studied at the University of Edinburgh. The writer and crime novelist invented the Detective Inspector Rebus, a loner with alcohol problems who mostly works on obscure and unimportant cases. But he always makes headlines in unforeseen ways and often brings surprising things to light. Inspector Rebus now has a large fan base who follows in his footsteps in Edinburgh. Rankin has already received several awards, including the Edgar Allan Poe Award and the German Crime Award.

Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832)
Walter Scott was born in Edinburgh in 1771, the son of a lawyer. The Scottish poet and novelist created the genre of the British historical novel and was the most widely read of the time. In 1814 he published “Waverley”, paving the way for many great writers and their unforgettable characters. Even Goethe was one of his fans. In Fontane’s view it was the “Shakespeare of the story”. Scott, who was also a Freemason, died in Abbotsford in 1832.

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)
The Scottish writer was born in Edinburgh in 1850 and wrote travel stories, adventure literature and historical novels, but also poetry and essays. The thrilling adventure novel “Treasure Island” (1880) and the horror story “The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (1886), which deals with the phenomenon of split personality, are particularly well known. A number of Stevenson’s novels are still popular today and some have been made into films several times. He died in Samoa in 1894.

Irvine Welsh (born 1958)
Irvine Welsh was born in Leith in 1958 as the son of a dock worker and worked as a television mechanic and musician. His debut novel was internationally successful. It is called “Trainspotting” and came out as a feature film shortly after its appearance in 1993. Welsh, who is well versed in the London punk and drug scene, has also written works such as “The Acid House” and “Porno”. Drugs, football and homosexuality that has not been lived out are among the subjects of the Scot.

Irvine Welsh