Events at the National Library

National Library of Scotland events are free and take place in our George IV Bridge Building, unless we state otherwise.

Places are limited, so we recommend that you book in advance.

From January 2016, we are using Eventbrite for online event bookings. When you book an event you will be taken to the Eventbrite website. You can also phone 0131 623 3734.

June events

List updated: 27 May.

For more information, or to join the events mailing list, email

June events

See also: Workshops and tours

Serbian Herioters

Photograph of the Serbian Herioters

During the First World War, 27 boys from Serbia were given refuge in Edinburgh. From 1916 to 1919, they were educated at George Heriot's School, where they found fame as rugby champions. Several of their descendants — visiting from Serbia for the centenary — talk with writer Louise Miller about the boys' experiences in Edinburgh and their lives after returning home.

Monday 6 June
Free. Book 'Serbian Herioters' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.

Casting light on darkness

Handwriting detailing the date of the Diodati visit

The place: Villa Diodati, Switzerland. The time: summer of 1816, the summer of darkness. The people: an outstanding literary circle including Lord Byron, Dr John Polidori and the soon-to-be Mary Shelley. The result: great works of fiction, including 'Manfred', 'The vampyre', and 'Frankenstein'. Manuscripts Curator David McClay discusses how the John Murray Archive casts light on this fascinating period of literary creation and how the archive supports a range of national and international events and exhibitions

Tuesday 14 June
Free. Book 'Casting light on darkness' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.

Unquiet Dreams: Ghost stories at the Villa Diodati, 1816

Drawing of three women

In June 1816, the 'year without a summer', Lord Byron rented the Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva. A remarkable gathering and a ghost story challenge stimulated two of the most famous literary works of the 19th century: John Polidori's 'The Vampyre' and Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein'. This event revisits that meeting, exploring this significant moment in Gothic fiction’s history, and the writers' cultural legacy in literature, science, and film. Dale Townshend, University of Stirling, and Linnie Blake, Manchester Metropolitan University, join Emily Alder and Sarah Artt from Edinburgh Napier University for a lively conversation about the Gothic then and now.

Thursday 16 June
Free. Book 'Unquiet Dreams' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.

New voices

New voices logo

Discover the brightest debut literary talents, and be the first to hear future prize-winning and bestselling authors in our new regular showcase. Chaired by Jenny Brown, four writers read from their work and talk inspiringly about their road to publication: Dorothy Alexander, Shelley Day, Lesley Kelly and Allyson Stack.

Tuesday 21 June
Free. Book 'New voices' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.

Sparkiving: Loitering with intent to catalogue

Photograph of items in the Muriel Spark archive

With the recent acquisition of the final instalment of the Dame Muriel Spark archive, the Library holds one of the broadest records of a writer's life ever assembled. Muriel Spark Project Curator Dr Colin McIlroy journeys through newly discovered highlights of the collection, as we learn more about the fascinating life of one of Scotland's literary greats.

Thursday 23 June
Free. Book 'Sparkiving' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.

The Isabel Dalhousie lecture

The 1816 Philadelphia 'Emma' and its readers

Photograph of Juliette Wells

Professor Juliette Wells — 2016 Isabel Dalhousie Fellow — talks about the rare 1816 Philadelphia edition of Jane Austen's 'Emma'. This edition was the only version published in America during Austen's lifetime, and only six known copies still exist.

The Isabel Dalhousie Fellowship is named after the main character of Alexander McCall Smith's 'Sunday Philosophy Club' series. In association with the University of Edinburgh's Institure for Advanced Studies in Humanities (IASH). 

Wednesday 29 June
Free. Book the Isabel Dalhousie lecture on Eventbrite

The joy of spines — spoken word

Photograph of a book spine

A Fringe show preview

Right in the heart of Edinburgh are 120 miles of underground shelves that store the Library's collection of 24 million items. Graeme Hawley — performance poet, slam winner, and General Collections Manager at the Library — presents this slideshow and found poem, comprised entirely of book spines. Amusing, thought provoking, and unexpectedly moving.

Thursday 30 June
Free. Book 'The joy of spines' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.

See also:

Speak me