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 nlsevents@nls.uk.

List updated: 21 October

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


October events

 

Over my dead body

Book cover: 'Over my dead body'

Organ donation is an issue which affects us all. What would you do if doctors asked you to give away your daughter's heart? And what if doing so would expose a terrible secret which might destroy your family? Hazel McHaffie has published eight novels which bring the quandaries of modern medicine alive. She will take you right up to the bedside, let you peer into the corners of her characters' minds, and encourage you to confront your own ethical uncertainties.

21 October
18.00
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Exhibition tour for people with a visual impairment

Visitors in NLS First World War exhibition

An audio-described tour of the 'Behind the lines' exhibition for people with a visual impairment. The tour is free, but booking is essential.

22 October
14.00-15.30
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Abbotsford to Hollywood: Sir Walter Scott's film career

Exterior of cinema showing 'Ivanhoe'

Two hundred years on from its first publication, 'Waverley' is one of the few Walter Scott novels to remain unfilmed, but other features have succeeded — and failed — spectacularly. Films of the 'Waverley' novels were a staple of the silent era, and the public's craving for colourful spectacle gave Scott an unexpected comeback on the wide screens of the 1950s. Andrew Martin, NLS Curator of Literature and the Arts, will discuss Scott's name above the title, and revisits the celluloid Ivanhoes and Lochinvars of another era.

23 October
18.00
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Exhibition tour for people with a hearing impairment

Visitors in NLS First World War exhibition

A portable hearing loop will be available for this tour of the 'Behind the lines' exhibition for people with a hearing impairment. The tour is free, but booking is essential.

24 October
14.00-15.00
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Guided tour of the Library

Group of people on staircase

Guided tour of the building and introduction to the Library's collections and history. The tour will last approximately 45 minutes. Numbers limited, so booking is essential. Please let us know if you have special access requirements.

27 October
14.00
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Geographies of the Prime Meridian

Surrey map detail

The Prime Meridian — 0 degrees longitude — is where the world begins in space and in time. From 1884, it has been at Greenwich, in the UK. In this illustrated talk, Charles Withers will examine the many different prime meridians in use before and after 1884, and will explore the complex geographies and politics of this seemingly simple world-defining feature. Withers is Ogilvie Chair of Geography at the University of Edinburgh and co-author of the award-winning Scotland: Mapping the nation.

28 October
18.00
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Don't panic! The witch craze in 17th century Scotland

Painting of a group of witches

For almost 200 years, Europe and Britain suffered periods of collective alarm and panic concerning the influence of witches or witchcraft on daily life. This talk by former nurse and midwife Chris Short will discuss some of the causes of such crazes in Scotland, including political, social and economic influences, and questions about witches and witchcraft. The conclusion suggests that, far from being no longer relevant to the 21st century, the fear of witchcraft remains a powerful force of political and social control.

29 October
14.00
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Through Border eyes: Celebrating Walter Scott

John Buchan's guide to Walter Scott

Donald Smith

Why is Sir Walter Scott the great unread? Let author John Buchan be your guide to the delights and perils of Scott's novel 'Wizard of the North'. In the year of the 200th anniversary of 'Waverley', Scott's first novel, Donald Smith will invite you to look again at Sir Walter through Buchan's eyes. A Scottish International Storytelling Festival 2014 event.

30 October
14.00
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Through Border eyes: Celebrating Walter Scott

Scott's singing muse: Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders

Walter Scott

All of Sir Walter Scott's later achievements are foreshadowed in his first major work — a monumental collection of Borders songs and legends. Re-published this year, for the first time with the music and full background, the 'Minstrelsy of the Scottish Borders' is a kist of treasures and curiosities. General Editor Sigrid Rieuwerts unveils this ground-breaking achievement. A Scottish International Storytelling Festival 2014 event.

30 October
15.30
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

The importance of being: An evening with John Cairney

John Cairney

John Cairney will take us on a spiritual journey that is part autobiography and part a study and consideration of theology. He explores four stages of life — birth, infancy, maturity, and old age and death — and the traumas we face in each. Cairney's words impress upon you the importance of recognising the gift we have simply in living and how crucial it is to appreciate each moment of our lives. This will be an evening of a philosophical look back at a life well lived.

30 October
18.00
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


November

 

Near not far — World War One's divergent voices

Group of performers standing on a stage

A specially commissioned live performance based on the first-hand testimony of First World War soldiers, nurses, home front workers, women, and those who opposed the war. We cannot imagine or relive the horror, but we can listen to the voices of those who lived through it all, speaking to us across the decades. With Gerda Stevenson, Crawford Logan, Aonghas Macneacail, Jamie Reid-Baxter. Music by Michael Byrne. Devised by Brian Larkin. In association with the Edinburgh Peace and Justice Centre. A Scottish International Storytelling Festival 2014 event.

1 and 2 November
14.30-16.30
Tickets: £7.50 / £6
Book online via the Scottish Storytelling Cente, or by phone at 0131 556 9579, or in person at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, 43-45 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1SR.


 

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: Philip Hutton, Freddie Alexander, and Steve Harvey.

3 November
18.30
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Muriel Spark Annual Lecture

Muriel Spark

Given on behalf of the Muriel Spark Society, the annual lecture this year will be delivered by the prize-winning writer Candia McWilliam, whose 'Debatable land' has been described as the best novel about Edinburgh since Spark's 'The prime of Miss Jean Brodie'. McWilliam will talk about Muriel Spark's life and work, including her poetry — an often overlooked part of her oeuvre, but no less remarkable and distinctive than her evergreen fiction.

4 November
18.00
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Lord Byron and John Murray II: An extraordinary publishing relationship

Annual John Murray Archive lecture, by Dr Mary O'Connell

Byron manuscript detail

Lord Byron's remarkable success as a poet and his increasingly scandalous works made his relationship with his publisher, John Murray, one of the most interesting in the whole Murray publishing history. Dr Mary O'Connell will explore this crucial relationship in the annual John Murray Archive Lecture. An NLS and Edinburgh Bibliographic Society joint event.

6 November
18.00
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.
EBS members should book by emailing h.vincent@nls.uk


 

Whit did ye dae in the war, Mammy?

First World War women ambulance drivers

To mark Armistice Day, singer Christine Kydd and storyteller Ewan McVicar use contemporary song, story and photography to investigate how the First World War affected and changed Scottish women's lives. During the war, women held a number of roles — from loyal homebodies to munitions workers and tram drivers, from music hall recruiters to front line doctors and nurses, and always mothers and sweethearts and wives.

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


 

Guided tour of the Library

Group of people on staircase

Guided tour of the building and introduction to the Library's collections and history. The tour will last approximately 45 minutes. Numbers limited, so booking is essential. Please let us know if you have special access requirements.

12 November
10.30
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Inspirations at NLS: Nigel Planer

Nigel Planer

Actor, comedian and writer Nigel Planer will draw our 'Inspirations' series to a close in 2014, discussing among other topics, his passion for a great Scot — Robert Louis Stevenson. More about the Nigel Planer event

12 November
18.00
Tickets: £10. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Robert Louis Stevenson Day

Robert Louis Stevenson in Samoa

Andrew Martin, NLS Curator of Literature and the Arts, will present a portrait of Robert Louis Stevenson's last years in Samoa and the work inspired by his stay in the islands. Special displays of Stevenson material will be in the George IV Bridge Building on Thursday 13 and from 13-16 November.

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


 

An expressive journey: NLS / SCO joint event

Rosenna East

Violinist and journalist Rosenna East presents an informative talk and demonstration, exploring the glittering programme of music being performed by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra at the Queen's Hall on Saturday 13 December. The concert includes works by French composers Ravel and Saint Saëns and by the vibrant Spanish composer Manuel de Falla. Through discussion, live music and visual art, discover how the music was inspired by Andalusian folk song, ballet, French baroque dance, and the work of Picasso.

18 November
18.00
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Guided tour of the Library

Group of people on staircase

Guided tour of the building and introduction to the Library's collections and history. The tour will last approximately 45 minutes. Numbers limited, so booking is essential. Please let us know if you have special access requirements.

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


 

Scotland's still light: An evening with Andy Hall

Andy Hall

Join Andy Hall for a look at Scotland at its most beautiful, in words and pictures. Hall will show us his collection of stunning photography accompanied by excerpts of poetry and prose from some of Scotland's most famous writers and bards. The images were developed from the author's study of the quality of light unique to Scottish landscapes and cities. A Book Week Scotland 2014 event.

25 November
18.00
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Burke and Hare: Owen Dudley Edwards

Book cover: 'Burke and Hare'

Here is the unvarnished, human story behind the infamous Burke and Hare murders. Owen Dudley Edwards, author of the definitive book on the notorious bodysnatching duo, delves into their past, their personalities and the circumstances that made them resort to murder as a money-making scheme. It's a tale of desperation and greed, of outsiders, ambition, corruption love, and betrayal. And it's all true! A Book Week Scotland 2014 event.

26 November
14.00
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Beyond 'Endurance': The life and works of Sir James Mann Wordie

James Wordie

Ernest Shackleton's ship 'Endurance' sailed to Antarctica 100 years ago and became stuck fast in the ice of the Weddell Sea. The story of the crew's survival and subsequent rescue by Shackleton have become the stuff of legend. One of the crew was Scottish geologist James Wordie, whose influence went on to change the face of polar exploration. NLS Curator Paula Williams will draw on Wordie's books and papers at NLS to tell his story. A Book Week Scotland 2014 event.

27 November
18.00
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Stories from the NLS shelves

Workshop led by James Robertson

James Robertson

This workshop is in two parts. First is a behind-the-scenes tour of the Library with a curator. After lunch, novelist and poet James Robertson will lead a writing workshop based on the morning's experience. More about the workshop

28 November
10.30-15.00
Free. Book by emailing info@moniackmhor.org.uk


December

 

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: Harry Giles, Jo Clifford, and T S Rosenberg.

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


 

Eclipsed by Shackleton: Icebound Antarctic expeditions before 'Endurance'

Photo of 2 boats stuck in ice

Ernest Shackleton is widely used as a role model for modern business leadership, especially in this centenary year of the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition. The successful rescue of all his crew is undisputed — but what of other heroic leaders before him? De Gerlache's 'Belgica' in 1898 and Drygalski's 'Gauss' in 1902 were icebound over winter (but escaped), while Otto Nordenskjöld's 'Antarctic' was crushed in 1903, leaving three isolated groups for rescue. Bruce Mair will recount the forgotten heroism and leadership of these three men.

2 December
18.00
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Edinburgh: Mapping the city

Edinburgh map detail

'Edinburgh: Mapping the city' uses historic maps to provide insights into the history of Edinburgh over the last five centuries. In this illustrated talk, authors Chris Fleet and Daniel MacCannell will discuss the main themes of the book. In addition to the history of the city, it includes the important people and institutions involved in mapmaking, the different political, commercial and social uses to which these maps have been put over time and their relevance today.

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


 

Scotland decides: An evening with David Torrance

Unfortunately we have had to postpone this event, which was scheduled for 9 December, due to unforeseen circumstances.


 

Guided tour of the Library

Group of people on staircase

Guided tour of the building and introduction to the Library's collections and history. The tour will last approximately 45 minutes. Numbers limited, so booking is essential. Please let us know if you have special access requirements.

10 December
10.30
Free. Book online or phone 0131 623 3734.


 

Poetry Pamphlet Fair

Poeple at Poetry Pamphlet Fair

Independent Scottish poetry publishing is going from strength to strength. This festive poetry pamphlet fair at NLS is always a popular event. Come along for a glass of wine, meet the publishers, hear the poems and buy the pamphlets! To book a stall, please contact Graeme Hawley on g.hawley@nls.uk.

10 December
18.00
No need to book: just come along on the night.


 

Christmas Fair

'Christmas Fair'

Our annual Christmas Fair has yuletide bargains and festive treats galore — we are sure we will have something for everyone. Enjoy a 20% discount on everything in our shop, from exhibition prints, mugs and candles to those hard to find books and children's favourites. Once you've shopped, you can relax with our tasty refreshments and festive entertainment. A delightful way to see in the Christmas season!

11 December
18.00
No need to book: just come along on the night.

 


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