Events at NLS

Browse the list below to find out about talks, workshops and more, organised by the National Library of Scotland.

Book online or phone 0131 623 3734. Places are limited, so we recommend that you book in advance. For more information, or to join the events mailing list, email events@nls.uk.

List updated: 24 April

Events take place in our George IV Bridge Building, unless we state otherwise.

 


 

April events

 

Wha's like us?: Great characters invented in Scotland

Peter Pan on book cover

Andrew Martin, NLS Curator (Literature and the Arts) and co-curator of the Library's exhibition, 'Wha's like us?', will explore the lasting appeal of the diverse fictitious characters from the exhibition. His talk will feature the memorable creations of some of our finest writers — from Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde to Harry Potter, via Peter Pan and Miss Jean Brodie.

24 April
14.00
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Play time

Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I - National Theatre of Scotland
© National
Theatre of
Scotland.

Who would you like to be? Join our fortnightly play-reading group and try out a new role. We'll be reading aloud a different short play each session. No performance, no public audience, no experience needed. Enjoy modern drama in an informal, lively way, with Andrew Martin, Curator of Literature and the Arts at NLS, and Kate Hendry, Reader in Residence.

29 April
18.00-20.00
Free. No need to book. Email k.hendry@nls.uk for more information.


 

May events

 

The Hidden Library

Shelves with boxes of Library material

The Hidden Library invites new audiences into the heart of NLS with special events in the General Reading Room on the last Saturday of the month. Hidden Library events

May-June
Free. No need to book.


 

Tricolour

Photo of a microphone

The monthly night showcasing three different poetry and spoken word talents. Three different voices, three different styles, three different takes on life. This month: Fiona Lindsay, MiKo Berry and Beverley Wright.

1 May
18.30
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Exhibition tour for people with hearing impairment

Postcard showing Loch Ness monster and kilted Scotsmen

A tour of our exhibition 'Wha's like us?' for people with a hearing impairment. Booking is essential.

2 May
14.00-15.00
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Allan Ramsay — Reviving scots song

Robert Ferguson quote carved in stone

Before Robert Burns and Robert Fergusson, Allan Ramsay was the genial agitator of Scots culture, reviving poetry, song and theatre in Auld Reekie (Edinburgh). Here distinguished musicologist Fred Freeman will demonstrate Ramsay's contribution to Scotland's national music.

5 May
18.00
Free. Book online only via the Scottish Storytelling Centre Box Office or phone 0131 556 9579.


 

Walter Scott and the storytellers

Marble bust of Walter Scott

Is 'storyteller' a polite word for 'liar'? Or are storytellers the speakers of terrible truths? Walter Scott puts storytelling at the centre of his art. In this study afternoon, storyteller Anna Fancett and researcher Lisa McKenna explore Scott as 'Wizard of the North' and master storyteller.

6 May
14.00-15.30
Tickets: £6 / £4. Book online only via the Scottish Storytelling Centre Box Office or phone 0131 556 9579.


 

Clash of the Titans: Revival and renaissance

Photo of audience applauding

Hamish Henderson and Hugh MacDiarmid had a famous flyting about the role of folk song in literature. But how was the 20th century folk revival related to the literary renaissance? Playwright and critic, Raymond Raszkowski Ross explores the titanic clash and its wider significance for Scottish culture.

6 May
18.00-19.00
Book online only via the Scottish Storytelling Centre Box Office or phone 0131 556 9579.


 

Ruskin and Geddes: A natural revival?

Photo of Patrick Geddes

Between John Ruskin and Patrick Geddes a current of inspiration was sparked. The Arts and Crafts movement and the Celtic Revival grow together in Scotland, rooted in our natural environment. In this study afternoon, writer Tom Hubbard and artist Kenny Munro will take us on a journey from natural source to artistic stream.

7 May
14.00-15.30
Tickets: £6 / £4. Book online only via the Scottish Storytelling Centre Box Office or phone 0131 556 9579.


 

Reiving and bereaving: Walter Scott and the ballads

Photo of the Eildon Hills from Scott's View

Kaye McAlpine and Lucy Macrae will explain WalterScott's love of the Border ballads, and demonstrate the ballads' lasting power and emotional appeal. This event is part of a year-long celebration surrounding publication this summer of Scott's 'Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border'.

7 May
18.00-19.00
Free. Book online only via the Scottish Storytelling Centre Box Office or phone 0131 556 9579.


 

Louise Welsh at NLS

'A lovely way to burn ' book cover

A pandemic is sweeping across the globe and London is a city in crisis … In this first book of the 'Plague' trilogy, Louise Welsh take us on a terrifying journey into the depths of a dying city. Chilling, tense and gripping, 'A lovely way to burn' is this author writing at the height of her powers. Tonight Louise will be in conversation with the BBC's Serena Field to talk us through her latest novel.

8 May
18.00
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Part 2 of the 'Cultural Wars of Independence' events series

In association with the 'Scottish Review of Books'

Graphic with 'yes' and 'no' written repeatedly

A panel of distinguished historians will explore the Union of 1707 and its effects to the present day. Taking part will be Dr Jenny Wormald (Honorary Fellow, School of History, Classics and Archaeology) and T M Devine (Personal Senior Research Professor and Director of the Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies), both from Edinburgh University, and Christopher Harvie (academic, author and a former MSP). Alan Taylor (Founding Editor, 'Scottish Review of Books' and senior writer for 'The Herald' and 'Sunday Herald') will chair the discussion.

12 May
18.00
Free.
This event is now fully booked.


 

In another world: Among Europe's dying villages

'In another world' book cover

In one of the defining moments in human history, more people now live in cities than in rural areas. Through a series of travel essays, stories, photographs and poems called 'In another world' Tom Pow explores what this means for some of Europe's most rapidly depopulating areas. 'The world created here … is the tragedy-rich, yet transient re-creation of rural decay, born of a pilgrimage of respect and curiosity, a journey of verification and discovery.' (From 'The Scotsman' review of 'In another world'.)

13 May
18.00
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Exhibition tour for people with visual impairment

Postcard showing Loch Ness monster and kilted Scotsmen

A tour of our exhibition 'Wha's like us?' for people with a visual impairment. Booking is essential.

14 May
14.00-15.30
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Play time

Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I - National Theatre of Scotland
© National
Theatre of
Scotland.

Who would you like to be? Join our fortnightly play-reading group and try out a new role. We'll be reading aloud a different short play each session. No performance, no public audience, no experience needed. Enjoy modern drama in an informal, lively way, with Andrew Martin, Curator of Literature and the Arts at NLS, and Kate Hendry, Reader in Residence.

13 and 27 May
18.00-20.00
Free. No need to book. Email k.hendry@nls.uk for more information.


 

Getting to the heart of 'The heart of Midlothian'

'The heart of Midlothian' book cover

Following his acclaimed adaptation of 'Ivanhoe' for the modern reader, Professor David Purdie — Chairman of the Sir Walter Scott Club — has now turned his attentions to another of Scott's major classics. 'The heart of Midlothian' is set against the backdrop of the 1793 Porteous Riots in Edinburgh's Old Town. A Scott expert renowned as an entertaining speaker, David will discuss the Wizard of the North's vivid evocation of a tumultuous era in Scotland's history.

27 May
18.00
Free.
This event is now fully booked.


 

Flying high: Aviation on film

Photo of E E ('Ted') Fresson

Discover some wonderful films recording Scotland's early aviation history, featuring Captain E E (Ted) Fresson, aviation pioneer, pilot and founder of Highland Airways. These films were re-discovered during a project between the Scottish Screen Archive and Another Orkney Production, culminating in a new version of the 1933 film 'The Inauguration of the First Highland Air Service'. This and other films will also be available on a new DVD launched at the event. With Ruth Washbrook (Scottish Screen Archive) and Moya MacDonald (Another Orkney Production).

28 May
18.00
Free.
This event is now fully booked.


 

The Guga Stone: Lies, legends and lunacies from St Kilda

'The Guga Stone' book cover

Donald S Murray, author of 'The Guga Stone' — 'wonderfully eclectic' ('The Guardian') — brings his own unique brand of humour and irreverence into play as he exposes the myths that abound about St Kilda. He and artist Douglas Robertson will talk about the wonderfully creative partnership they forged, despite living hundreds of miles apart, and their shared delight in this astounding location.

29 May
18.00
Free.
This event is now fully booked.


 

June events

 

Tricolour

Photo of a microphone

The monthly night showcasing three different poetry and spoken word talents. Three different voices, three different styles, three different takes on life. This month: Enjoy a set of 50-word wonders from Stephen Barnaby, and the first full performance of the Sleevenotes album from 56n by Graeme Hawley.

2 June
18.30
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

The call of the mountains

'The call of the mountains' book cover

Over the course of seven years during which he climbed all of Scotland's 282 Munros, Max Landsberg witnessed the birth of a deer, was saved by Mountain Rescue, dangled from the Inaccessible Pinnacle during an abseil that went wrong, and gained the spiritual insights of 'wu wei' — effortless action. Although Scotland's mountains may not be the highest in the world, for him they are among the most awe-inspiring, enchanting … and dangerous.

3 June
18.00
Free.
This event is now fully booked.


 

Lost railways of Scotland

Photo of Julian Holland

Bestselling railway author Julian Holland will give an illustrated talk about Scotland's lost railways, their fascinating history and how they can be explored today. Julian spent his formative years trainspotting on draughty station platforms and in grimy engine sheds. He travelled the highways and byways of the British Rail network searching for that elusive number or that soon-to-be-closed line. His passion for railways has led him to write several popular books on the subject, including the award-winning 'Mapping the railways' (with David Spaven).

5 June
18.00
Free
This event is now fully booked.


 

Sherlock Holmes: The hound of the Baskervilles

Sherlock Holmes silhouette

Free preview of the NLS Edinburgh Fringe show 2014!

Ross Macfarlane directs Jack Reid in this one-man, one-hour performance' as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous detective investigates the mystery of a chilling family curse. The Snow Angels Theatre Company showcase their 2014 NLS Fringe show, following last year's successful production of Charles Dickens' tale 'The story of Little Dombey', which gained glowing reviews:

'… sheer engaging charm' — 'All Edinburgh Theatre'.

''… a great storytelling performance' — 'Daily Record' / 'The Ticket'.

10 June
18.00
Free.
This event is now fully booked.


 

Play time

Mary Queen of Scots and Elizabeth I - National Theatre of Scotland
© National
Theatre of
Scotland.

Who would you like to be? Join our fortnightly play-reading group and try out a new role. We'll be reading aloud a different short play each session. No performance, no public audience, no experience needed. Enjoy modern drama in an informal, lively way, with Andrew Martin, Curator of Literature and the Arts at NLS, and Kate Hendry, Reader in Residence.

10 June
18.00-20.00
Free. No need to book. Email k.hendry@nls.uk for more information.


 

James Kelman at NLS

James Kelman

Tonight James Kelman will be in conversation with Edinburgh-based writer, poet and activist Kevin Williamson about this all-important aspect of his life. He will also talk about his archive, which is now in the National Library of Scotland. As well as his literary papers, the collection includes Kelman's political archive. This reveals the extent of the writer's commitment to, and active support for, causes ranging from the Clydeside Action on Asbestos campaign, through 'Workers City', the Free University and the Stephen Lawrence Family Campaign.

11 June
18.00
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

The Honey Diet

'The honey diet' book cover

For thousands of years honey has been regarded as having magical, remedial qualities. Nutrition expert and former Boots chemist Mike McInnes explains how, by simply cutting out sugar and adding in honey, you will not only lose weight but sleep better, think more clearly and restore your immune system. Two systems shrink the human brain and impair memory and cognition – excess refined sugars and sleep deprivation. The Honey Diet addresses both. Join Mike as he reveals the secrets of his revolutionary diet.

12 June
18.00
Free.
This event is now fully booked.


 

Emporium of Dangerous Ideas: Can libraries survive online technology?

Photo of Lesley Riddoch

Lesley Riddoch will host an informative panel of speakers who will consider the future of libraries and ask if they can survive the current technological onslaught. This event is organised as part of the Emporium of Dangerous Ideas and in partnership with NLS and the General Teaching Council for Scotland.

17 June
18.00
Free.
This event is now fully booked.


 

Inspirations at NLS: Lorraine Kelly and Stephen Jardine

Photo of Lorraine Kelly

Lorraine Kelly OBE and former television co-presenter Stephen Jardine reveal what has motivated and inspired them both in their professional and personal lives. Their journalistic careers have seen them sharing a breakfast show sofa, but the friends have also found success in their own right. Join us for great chat, lots of good humour and a one-off display of items from the Library's collections. Numbers limited — book in advance to avoid disappointment. More about the Inspirations event

19 June
18.15
Tickets: £10. Refreshments included. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Tours of the National Library of Scotland

Library building exterior detail

Enjoy a behind the scenes tour at the National Library of Scotland and learn more about the Library's Polish collections. The tour will last approximately 50 minutes and will include a visit to the reading rooms and to one of the stack floors where we store some of our 16 million print items. There will be a small display demonstrating the range of Polish material we hold. Numbers limited, so booking is essential. Please let us know if you have special access requirements.

20 June
10:00, 14:00 and 16:00
28 June
10.00 and 11.30
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Bannockburn

'Bannockburn' book cover

On 23 June 1314, 8,000 Scottish solders faced 18,000 English forces. Many would have assumed that the result was a foregone conclusion. Two days of fighting later, the English were routed and Edward II had fled the country. Only one English unit escaped from Scotland intact. Alistair Moffat's new book, 'Bannockburn: The battle for a nation' follows in detail the events of those two days that changed history.

23 June
18.00
Free.
This event is now fully booked.


 

From Scotland to the Somme — a family at war

Scottish solider reading in a trench

Following the opening of our major exhibition on the Great War, journalist and broadcaster Stephen Jardine will reflect on what we can learn from the recollections of Scottish soldiers, including the remarkable personal experience of his own grandfather. As we mark the centenary of the First World War, historians and politicians continue to debate the conflict, its causes and consequences. But the anniversary also gives us a chance to connect with the men on the front line through their poignant diaries and letters home.

30 June
18.00
Free.
This event is now fully booked.




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