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Events | exhibitions


Rare 'Alice in Wonderland' display for World Book Day

Knave of Hearts with tarts, 1865
Illustration opposite the
1865 title page.

On World Book Day, visitors to the National Library of Scotland can view the earliest editions of Lewis Carroll's 'Alice's adventures in Wonderland'. This small display includes the rarest and most sought-after version of the famous book.

Visitors can see the first edition of 'Alice' from 1865, open at the title page. This first issue was withdrawn from publication after the illustrator, John Tenniel, complained about the quality of the printed illustrations.

Recipients of presentation copies were asked to return them, and only a few bound copies have survived. The Library's copy has the added attraction of being in its original red cloth binding, which is particularly rare.

Tenniel's illustrations

Also on display are two copies of the 1866 second edition of 'Alice'. This was the first edition sold to the public. The books will be open to show two of John Tenniel's most famous illustrations: Alice meeting the Cheshire cat and Alice at the Hatter's mad tea-party.

Visit the Library's Boardroom on 5 March between 16.30 and 18.30 to view these rare and fascinating works.

A selection of early editions featured in our 'Alice' treasures display in 2011.

Read more in the World Book Day media release.

2 March 2015


Bookbinders triumph at the National Library

Bookbinding award winners with John Scally
From left: Nicky, Pilar, National
Librarian John Scally, Claudia
and Geert.

Some of the finest examples of modern day bookbinding are on display at the National Library of Scotland until 8 March. The Library is displaying all the entries to the 2014 Elizabeth Soutar Bookbinding Competition, which attracts binders from all over Europe.

Organised by the Library, the competition is one of the book industry's most prestigious design awards. It is now in its 22nd year and encourages the practice and development of both creative and craft binding skills which display individual expression and originality.

Winners of the 2014 awards have now been announced:

  • Best craft binding — Nicky Oliver, London
  • Best creative binding — Claudia Richter, Germany  
  • Best craft binding, student award — Pilar Herreros de Tejada, Spain
  • Best creative binding, student award — Geert Stevens, Belgium

Entries are bound exclusively for the competition and a prize of £1,200 went to the main award winners, while the student award winners received £600. All entries, along with the winning bindings, are now on display in the Library's entrance hall at George IV Bridge until Sunday 8 March.

The Elizabeth Soutar Bookbinding Competition began in 1993 to recognise excellence in the field of craft bookbinding. Mrs Elizabeth A Clark (formerly Soutar) of Moray sponsored the award until her death in 2008. Thanks to a bequest from her, the competition continues.

The winning entries are donated to the Library's growing collection of modern craft bindings.

25 February 2015


Board appointments announced

4 new NLS Board members with James Boyle
From left: William Shields Henderson,
Carmel Teusner, Board Chair
James Boyle, Helen Durndell
and Amina Shah.

Five new members have been appointed to the Board of the National Library of Scotland.

Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Europe and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop announced the appointments today (20 February).

Joining the Board for four years from 1 March are:

  • Helen Durndell
  • William Shields Henderson
  • Iain Marley
  • Amina Shah
  • Carmel Teusner.
Iain Marley
Iain Marley.

The new members have a collective background that includes academic and public libraries, chartered accountancy, and human resources and organisational development. Among their areas of expertise and interest are commerce, equalities, strategy development and large-scale project delivery.

Read more in our Board appointments media release.


20 February 2015


See Scott's 'massacre' poem projected on to Glencoe scenery

Glencoe with words projected on to stone wall
A still from the film.
View full image

A haunting film that commemorates the massacre of Glencoe in 1692 is to be shown at the National Library of Scotland on Friday 13 February.

The date is the anniversary of one of the bloodiest chapters in Scottish history, when Government soldiers massacred 38 members of the MacDonald clan in their own homes. Forty more women and children died of exposure in the bitter Scottish winter after fleeing the violence.

Sir Walter Scott wrote a poem about the slaughter, and this provides the centrepiece of an innovative video filmed on the very ground the killing took place.

Double Take Projections has created the video showing the words of Scott's 'On the massacre of Glencoe' being beamed on to the Glencoe scenery, including Buachaille Etive Beag.

From 14.00-17.30 on Friday 13, the Library will show the three-minute film repeatedly in the Boardroom in the George IV Bridge Building.

In the 'Game of Crowns' exhibition, visitors to the Library can also see the handwritten document that ordered the Glencoe massacre.

9 February 2015


Polar maps inspire art students

Map illustrations in glass two glass cases

Artwork by Edinburgh students inspired by maps of Antarctica and other polar material has gone on display at the National Library.

Fifteen students from Edinburgh College of Art recently visited the Library to see a selection of maps and to meet Paula Williams, Curator of Maps, Mountaineering and Polar Collections. 

Inspired by the maps and the story of Ernest Shackleton's Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1914-1917, each student was given the brief to create an illustrated map and a related object. 

The resulting artwork is on display in the main hall of the Library's George IV Bridge Building from 9-19 February. 

This is the second year that the Library's learning team has worked with the college to develop a specific project for students.

9 February 2015


Ian Rankin backs Muriel Spark archive fundraising campaign

Ian Rankin with archive boxes
Ian Rankin with Spark archive
boxes. Picture supplied by
Simon Murphy Photographer

Bestselling author Ian Rankin is backing a National Library of Scotland fundraising campaign to buy the final portion of Muriel Spark's archive.

The campaign will aim to raise £250,000 to buy and catalogue the remainder of the archive by 2018, the centenary of Spark's birth.

Edinburgh-born Dame Muriel was well-known for collecting — she rarely discarded a piece of paper. Over several decades, the Library has built up what is now a significant and unique literary collection that reflects the Scottish writer's life and work.

Spark's archive contains rich correspondence, photographs and newspaper cuttings, along with fascinating details from Spark's everyday life, such as train tickets and shopping lists.

Ian Rankin will launch the fundraising campaign on 5 February at a reception at the Library. 'As a long-time fan of Muriel Spark's writing, I'm determined her treasure trove of an archive should have its home in Edinburgh, the city of her birth and the setting for her most famous work,' he said.

Read more in our Muriel Spark Campaign media release.

5 February 2015

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