Robert Louis Stevenson was a Scottish travel writer, poet, and novelist. A popular writer in his lifetime, Stevenson went about traveling widely and writing prolifically even as he suffered from bronchial trouble; his will power and love for writing won the hearts of many other writers. In 2018, he was ranked as the world's 26th-most-translated author.
David McCallum is a Scottish musician and actor who gained recognition for portraying Illya Kuryakin in the popular spy fiction TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. He gained international recognition for playing Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard in the action police procedural TV series NCIS. David McCallum has also contributed as a writer, publishing a novel titled Once a Crooked Man.
Sir James Matthew Barrie was a Scottish playwright and novelist. He is credited and remembered for creating the famous fictional character, Peter Pan. In the 1922 New Year Honours, Barrie was made a member of the Order of Merit. Before his death, he gifted the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children with the rights of his Peter Pan works.
Walter Scott was a Scottish novelist, poet, historian, and playwright. Scott's ability as a writer and his knowledge of history made him a pioneering figure in the formation of the historical novel genre. An influential writer, many of his works remain classics of Scottish as well as English-language literature. Scott was admired by other prominent writers like Letitia Elizabeth Landon.
Best known for his cult novel Trainspotting, which depicted the lives of Scottish heroin addicts and was made into a film by Danny Boyle, Scottish author Irvine Welsh has also written in the Edinburgh Scots dialect. He also boasts of an MBA degree and has worked in his country’s housing department.
Alistair Maclean was a Scottish novelist best remembered for writing popular adventure stories. Having sold more than 150 million copies, Alistair Maclean is widely regarded as one of the best-selling fiction authors. Many of his works, including Where Eagles Dare, Ice Station Zebra, and The Guns of Navarone, have been made into popular films.
While he began writing at age 11, Scottish author Iain Banks first gained fame with his first novel, The Wasp Factory. Known for his sci-fi tales, he has also been featured on various BBC radio and TV shows. He has also been associated with theater and is quite vocal about political issues.
Best known for his biography of his friend Samuel Johnson, 18th-century biographer and diarist James Boswell was also a qualified lawyer. Know for his reckless lifestyle and his trysts with prostitutes, he had contracted gonorrhea and had also fathered many children, including two illegitimate ones.
Glasgow-born Scottish author Peter May first gained fame for his novel The Reporter, which was later made into the TV series The Standard. He is also known for his China Thrillers and The Enzo Files series. He is now based in France and is married to Scottish playwright Janice Hally.
Born to working-class parents in Scotland, Ali Smith grew up to earn a PhD from the University of Cambridge. While teaching at the University of Strathclyde, she developed chronic fatigue and took a break to write. Known for books such as Autumn, she often collaborates with her partner Sarah Wood.
Elizabeth Mackintosh, better known by her pseudonym, Josephine Tey, was a physical education teacher before becoming a full-time author. She first tasted success with The Man in the Queue, a detective novel written as Gordon Daviot. Her work A Shilling for Candles was made into a film by Alfred Hitchcock.
Known for her novels such as Memento Mori and The Driver’s Seat, Scottish author Muriel Spark was also one of the rare female editors of her time when she was associated with the Poetry Review. Though born to a Jewish father, she later converted to Catholicism.
Best known for his collections of folklore, fairy tales, and legends, Scottish author and Merton College fellow Andrew Lang was also an avid historian and anthropologist who coined the term psychical research. His The World of Homer and his translations of Homer’s works remain invaluable to Homerian students.
Best known for his picaresque novels such as The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, Scottish novelist Tobias Smollett was born into a family of lawyers and soldiers and initially attended medical training. Some believe he quit university without a degree, while it is also said he had served as a navy surgeon.
Though born into a famous family of theater actors and managers, Compton Mackenzie turned to writing in his 20s. Known for works such as Greek Memories, he also gained fame as a Scottish nationalist and played a major role in the formation of the Scottish National Party.
While she initially did a number of odd jobs, including working as a bar maid, Denise Mina later entered law school, eventually working on mental illness and also teaching criminology. She misused her PhD grant and penned an award-winning novel, Garnethill, instead. She then became a master of crime novels.
Alasdair Gray was a Scottish artist and writer whose works have inspired several other prominent writers like Irvine Welsh, Alan Warner, Janice Galloway, Chris Kelso, and A. L. Kennedy. His first novel Lanark, which was published in 1981, is viewed as a watershed in the history of Scottish fiction. He also painted murals, including one at the Hillhead subway station.
Known for authoring books such as Memoirs of a Spacewoman and The Conquered, Naomi Mitchison was also a driven socialist. She served as an advisor to Botswana’s Bakgatla tribe and had also been a farmer. Honored with numerous awards and honorary doctorates, she lived till age 101.
John Galt was a Scottish entrepreneur, novelist, and social and political commentator. Often referred to as the first English-language political novelist, Galt wrote extensively on issues pertaining to the Industrial Revolution. John Galt is also known as the father of Sir Alexander Tilloch Galt, who went on to become one of the fathers of the Canadian Confederation.
Edwin Muir was a Scottish novelist, poet, and translator best remembered for his vivid and deeply felt poetry written with few stylistic preoccupations. A prolific translator, Muir was honored with the prestigious Johann-Heinrich-Voss Translation Award in 1958.
Born to a Scottish factor, mathematician Eric Temple Bell spent most of his life in the U.S. The Stanford alumnus contributed to the analytic number theory and also taught math at institutes such as Caltech. He also penned sci-fi novels such as The Time Stream as John Taine.
Born to an Orkney postman, Scottish poet George Mackay Brown was known for reflecting the Orkneyan life through his works. Apart from releasing poetry collections such as Loaves and Fishes, he also penned many short stories and the Booker Prize-shortlisted novel Beside the Ocean of Time.
Born to a Scottish mother and a Ghanaian father, Lesley Lokko grew up to be not just an architect but also an educator and an author. Her written works deal with themes such as politics, urbanism, and racial identity. After her debut novel, Sundowners, became a bestseller, she penned several other novels.
John Davidson was a Scottish poet, novelist, and playwright best remembered for his ballads. A prolific writer, Davidson's work influenced several Modernist poets like Wallace Stevens and Hugh MacDiarmid. John Davidson's financial troubles as well as mental and physical health problems culminated in his suicide by drowning on 23 March 1909 at the age of 51.
Iain Crichton Smith was a Scottish novelist and poet best remembered for his 1968 novel Consider the Lilies. Before starting his career as a full-time writer, Smith worked as a teacher; he taught in places like Dumbarton, Oban, and Clydebank from 1952 to 1977. Also a translator, Iain Crichton Smith translated some of Sorley Maclean's work from Gaelic to English.
Allan Cunningham was a Scottish author and poet best remembered for his immense contribution to the London Magazine during its salad days in the 1820s. A prolific songwriter, Cunningham also contributed to Eugenius Roche's Literary Recreations. In addition to his poems and songs, Allan Cunningham also wrote novels and biographies of popular figures like Sir Joshua Reynolds and William Blake.
George MacBeth was a Scottish novelist and poet best remembered as one of the most important members of an informal group of poets known as The Group. As a novelist, MacBeth created the popular character Cadbury, who appeared in a series of thrillers. An influential and popular writer, George MacBeth was honored with the prestigious Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize.