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.
Scottish Enlightenment philosopher, historian, and economist, David Hume, is considered one of the most important philosophers to write in English. His book, A Treatise of Human Nature, is counted among the most influential works in the history of philosophy. His works have influenced numerous thinkers, including German philosopher Immanuel Kant and Christian philosopher Joseph Butler.
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.
Donovan is a Scottish guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He is best known for developing and popularizing a distinctive and eclectic style that blended many genres, such as folk, jazz, pop, calypso, and psychedelic rock. Donovan was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame, in 2012 and 2014, respectively.
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.
Scottish author Graham Hancock spent his initial years in India, where his father was a surgeon. He later moved back to the UK and worked as a journalist for publications such as The Guardian and The Times. He is known to propagate pseudo-scientific theories through his books such as Underworld and Supernatural.
Better known by his pseudonym, Fish, Scottish rock singer Derek William Dick first gained fame as part of the British band Marillion. Known for hits such as Kayleigh, he later also had a successful solo career. He once revealed how he almost died twice, from skin-infection-induced blood poisoning.
12 Irvine Welsh
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.
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.
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.
15 R. D. Laing
Psychiatrist R. D. Laing was known for his different perspective on mental illnesses, particularly psychosis. Known as anti-psychiatry, his theory of resolving mental ailments opposed the age-old shock therapy. His written works include The Divided Self. He was also a talented poet and had fathered 10 children by four women.
16 Iain Banks
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.
17 A. J. Cronin
18 John Buchan
Apart from being a Unionist politician who had also been the Governor General of Canada, John Buchan was also a notable writer of adventure fiction, thrillers, and historical novels. Best known for his novel The Thirty-Nine Steps, he also penned a 24-volume history of World War I.
19 Peter May
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.
20 Ali Smith
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.
22 Muriel Spark
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.
23 Andrew Lang
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.
25 Rory Bremner
Though a qualified doctor, Samuel Smiles later never practiced and switched to journalism instead, working for Leeds Times. His best-known work remains Self-Help, a motivational self-improvement guide for the youth, which denounced materialism and advocated thrift. His other significant work was the 5-volume Lives of the Engineers.
27 Ivor Cutler
Known as The Great Montrose, James Graham, 1st Marquess of Montrose was not just a Scottish nobleman and military leader but also a talented poet. He won many battles for Charles I but was defeated in the Battle of Carbisdale, following which he was hanged to death in the Edinburgh marketplace.
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.
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.
31 Denise Mina
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.
Christopher Murray Grieve, better known by his pseudonym, Hugh MacDiarmid, was one of the pillars of the 20th-century Scottish literary renaissance. Initially a journalist, he later focused on writing poetry, but rejected English and wrote in "synthetic Scots" instead. His best-known work remains A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle.
Joanna Baillie was a Scottish dramatist and poet who recieved critical acclaim for her works, such as Fugitive Verses and Plays on the Passions. One of her most popular works DeMonfort helped inspire Byron's drama, Manford. Baillie was also known for her philanthropic efforts; she donated half her earnings to charity and took an active part in several philanthropic activities.
Scottish poet Thomas Campbell is best known for his emotional war poems and songs, such as Ye Mariners of England. He was also one of the men behind the formation of University College London. Though he initially intended to study law, he later ended up writing some of the best patriotic lyrics.
35 Gavin Esler
Award-winning Scottish journalist and broadcaster Gavin Esler is best known for presenting BBC programs such as Dateline London, The Film Review, and Hardtalk. He has also penned novels such as The Blood Brother and non-fiction works such as Brexit Without the Bullshit. He also contested as election as a Change UK candidate.
36 A.S. Neill
A. S. Neill was a Scottish author and educator best remembered for founding Summerhill School, which was established in 1921. The independent boarding school, which serves education in a democratic fashion, is one of the finest examples of both alternative and democratic education. A. S. Neill is widely regarded as one of the most influential educationists of all time.
Harry The Minstrel, or Blind Harry, was a 15th-century Scottish poet, best known for his iconic poem The Wallace. He finds mention in a lot of literary works, such as The Lament for the Makaris by William Dunbar. Blind since birth, he mostly went around collecting legends about Scottish knight Sir William Wallace.
Apart from being a prominent Scottish physician, William Cullen was also a main pillar of the Scottish Enlightenment. Not only did he treat luminaries such as philosopher David Hume, but he also treated the poor free of cost. A University of Edinburgh professor of medicine, he was also a Royal Society Fellow.
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.
41 John Galt
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.
Welsh-born Scottish author Eric Linklater is best remembered for his award-winning children’s book The Wind on the Moon. Initially a student of medicine, he later switched to English literature. He had also been part pf the Scottish military and later also became a military historian.
Aminatta Forna is a writer whose novel The Memory of Love won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize in 2011. Forna was also honored with the prestigious Windham–Campbell Literature Prize in 2014. She also teaches creative writing at many universities and supports several young and aspiring writers. In the 2017 New Year Honours, Forna was appointed OBE for services to literature.
Once the court poet of King James IV of Scotland, William Dunbar remains one of the most reputed Chaucerians of his time. Known for allegorical pieces such as The Goldyn Targe, he also penned works such as Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedie, directed against his rival Walter Kennedy.
48 Edwin Muir
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.
49 Edwin Morgan
One of the last of the great poets of the Scottish literary renaissance, Edwin Morgan became the first Glasgow Poet Laureate, was named the National Poet of Scotland, and was once invited to pen a poem to open the Scottish Parliament. The gay poet revealed his sexuality through love poems such as Strawberries.
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.