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Events | exhibitions


Celebrating heroic endurance and survival in the Antarctic

Ernest Shackleton at his desk
Ernest Shackleton at his desk.

What has been described as the greatest survival story of all time is the subject of a new Treasures display at the National Library of Scotland.

Almost exactly 100 years ago, a group of British explorers, led by Sir Ernest Shackleton, set out to cross the Antarctic. What happened next has become the stuff of polar legend.

Stranded on ice

Their ship 'Endurance' became trapped in ice-bound seas, forcing the men to survive for months on ice floes before making it to a rocky outcrop.

Shackleton and a small team then set off in a lifeboat across 900 miles of raging seas to get to safety. Eventually all the ship's crew members were rescued.

Geologist James Wordie

Among those involved was the Scots geologist Sir James Mann Wordie, who later became one of the most influential figures in 20th-century polar exploration.

His papers form the heart of the polar collections at the Library and help to tell the story of the Shackleton expedition.

The 'Beyond Endurance' display runs from 20 November until 18 January. Read more in our treasures display media release.

20 November 2014


War hero Leigh Fermor's archive fully available

Correspondence from leading figures of the 20th century is one of the highlights of a major archive now open to the public at the National Library of Scotland.

The Library has spent the past year cataloguing the contents of the archive of Sir Patrick Leigh Fermor, regarded as the finest travel writer of his generation.

Paddy, as he was universally known, occupied a central place in 20th century cultural life which is reflected in the archive. It includes correspondence from famous names including:

  • Prince Charles
  • John Betjeman
  • Truman Capote
  • Freya Stark
  • Gore Vidal.

Extensive correspondence

The archive occupies some 16 metres of shelving and contains literary manuscripts, diaries, notebooks, photographs and passports, as well as voluminous correspondence.

Sir Patrick was a decorated war hero as well as a writer and has been described as 'a cross between Indiana Jones, Graham Greene and James Bond'.

Graham Stewart, the curator who has carried out the cataloguing work said: 'There has already been a lot of interest in the archive and we expect this to increase now among Leigh Fermor fans and people interested in the 20th century more generally.'

Details of the archive are available in the Fermor archive inventory (PDF) (81 pages; 556 KB).

Read more in the Leigh Fermor archive media release.

12 November 2014


Five new Board members being sought

Do you have expertise in library development, finance, human resources, or in delivering capital projects? If so, the National Library of Scotland wants to hear from you.

The Library is looking for up to five new members to join its Board which is responsible for determining the strategies, policies and priorities.

This is a unique opportunity to help shape the future of one of Scotland's premier cultural organisations.

Seven new members joined the Board earlier this year and the new appointments will fill the remaining posts.

The closing date for applications is Friday 14 November. For an application pack and full details, visit the Public Appointments website.

Read more on the Board recruitment page and in the Board recruitment media release.

24 October 2014


Oor Wullie has fun weys tae lairn Scots

Oor Wullie with blackboard map of Scotland

A website to help primary schoolchildren learn Scots is launched today by the National Library of Scotland.

The 'Oor Wullie guide tae Scots language' site uses the famous cartoon character to get six-to 11-year-olds thinking about and using Scots words.

Several schools across Scotland worked with the Library to develop and test the learning activities, which include quizzes, a 'comic maker' and a word search.

Oor Wullie and his friends

Some pupils have recorded Scots words so that anyone unfamiliar with them can hear how they are pronounced.

Developed in partnership with Oor Wullie publisher DC Thomson, the educational initiative has the support of a number of organisations, including the Scots Language Centre and the Scottish Language Dictionaries.

It was launched at the Library by the Minister for Scotland's Languages, Dr Alasdair Allan, who said: 'This site brings together a huge amount of expertise and the activities allow pupils to express themselves in a fun way that shows how popular Scots is across the country.'

Read more in the Oor Wullie media release.

Oor Wullie ®© and associated characters TM©DC Thomson & Co Ltd 2014.

8 October 2014

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