'Secret' text tells of feud between explorers
A famous feud between two great Victorian explorers is laid bare in a book that was meant to remain secret.
The National Library of Scotland has acquired what is thought to be one of only five copies still in existence of a family edition of the book, which gives details of the feud between John Hanning Speke and Sir Richard Burton.
In 1858, Speke discovered the source of the Nile — a claim Burton strongly challenged.
Speke wrote about this in 1864 in his book 'What Led to the Discovery of the Source of the Nile'. In it he originally referred to his feud with Burton, but was persuaded to leave this out of the final publication.
A special edition of 12 copies containing his thoughts on the dispute with Burton was printed, although only for distribution within Speke's family. It is one of these that has now been added to the National Library's collection.
Dr Graham Hogg, a Rare Books Curator at the Library, said this is thought to be the only copy held by any public institution and freely available for consultation by the public.
Read more in our Speke book media release.
6 September 2017
Display celebrates a unique creative partnership
Treasures that feature some of the most important writers in 20th century are on show at the National Library of Scotland.
They all come from the collection of Kulgin Duval and Colin Hamilton, who made an extraordinary contribution to Scottish life and letters over 50 years.
'Creative lives' is a display that celebrates Duval and Hamilton's unique creative partnership. As booksellers and publishers, they dealt in rare books and literary manuscripts, which brought them into contact with most of the major Scottish literary figures of the time.
They formed particularly close relationships with Hugh MacDiarmid and George Mackay Brown. This is reflected in the display, which includes manuscripts and letters of MacDiarmid's and an unpublished story from Mackay Brown.
Read more in our 'Creative lives' display media release.
24 August 2017
Celebrating the New Towns at Edinburgh Book Festival
about East Kilbride New Town.
In a tent in Edinburgh during two days in August, the National Library of Scotland will focus on Scotland's New Towns.
Films, leaflets, maps sound recordings and other collection items will be viewable in the George Street venue as part of the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
On 14 and 15 August, visitors can drop in to the 'Showcasing rare treasures' event and see films from the 1950s to the 1970s selected from the Moving Image Archive.
Facsimiles of printed items include leaflets and booklets that were used to promote the New Towns to potential residents and businesses.
Throughout the day there will be activities for all ages, including map-making and a quiz game.
Read more about the free book festival drop-in event.
10 August 2017
Photography competition opens
A unique photography competition based on views of Scotland first recorded in the 17th century is open for entries.
The National Library of Scotland has organised the competition to mark the 300th anniversary of the death of military engineer John Slezer.
In 1693, Slezer published a book containing engravings of many of Scotland's most important towns and buildings. His 'Theatrum Scotiae' represented the first pictorial survey of Scotland.
Read more in the photo competition media release.
13 July 2017
Insights into life in India
A gallery of images depicting life in India over the centuries is on display at the National Library of Scotland during July and August.
The special Treasures display is being held to commemorate the 70th anniversary of Indian independence and is the Library's contribution to the UK-India Year of Culture.
Items for 'Images of India' have been selected from the Library's large South Asia collections, and the display showcases depictions of Indian scenes by both Indian and Scottish artists.
They invite visitors to enter the visual world of India as it has been seen through the eyes of different religious faiths, through the imagination of artists and through camera lenses.
Highlights include an early 19th century illuminated Urdu poem, an 18th century astrological scroll, and drawings and paintings by Scots travellers to India.
Read more in our India display media release.
6 July 2017
Iolaire disaster remembered
from the Iolaire website.
Newly digitised material is being made available for the first time to tell the story of one of the worst disasters in Scottish history.
More than 200 men from the Western Isles died on 1 January 1919 as their ship ran aground within sight of Stornoway harbour. HMY Iolaire had been bringing them home from the First World War.
The loss of so many lives in the Iolaire disaster devastated the islands and the pain continues to be felt to this day.
A new online resource in Gaelic and English has been produced in advance of the centenary of the tragedy in 2019, to ensure their story is never forgotten.
Produced by the National Library of Scotland, the Iolaire website presents historical newspapers, maps and documentary sources.
It also features reflections on the disaster from descendants — young and old – of survivors and of those who perished.
Read more in our Iolaire media release.
29 June 2017
Harry Potter and the special celebration
with the author's
drawing and comments.
On 26 June a one-day display is popping up at the National Library of Scotland to celebrate a literary phenomenon.
Twenty years ago on that date, a children's book was published about a boy wizard. J K Rowling's 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' was an instant success — and inspired millions of children around the world to start the reading habit.
On show at the Library will be a rare first edition of the first Harry Potter book, with drawings and comments made by the author.
In it J K Rowling declares that the book 'changed my life forever'.
The Library's collections contain thousands of Harry Potter items. A careful selection will be made from these for the event.
There will be special editions, foreign translations and academic texts examining the influence of one of the most important books in literary history.
Visitors are being encouraged to dress up as wizards or Harry Potter look-alikes on the day to add to the sense of fun.
The Harry Potter display is on at the Library's Boardroom on George IV Bridge, Edinburgh, from 12.00 to 19.00 on Monday 26 June.
Read more in our Potter event media release.
20 June 2017
Restored images retrace Shackleton's Antarctic voyage
Previously unseen details of the epic struggle for survival of Sir Ernest Shackleton and the crew of the Endurance are on show at the National Library of Scotland's new summer exhibition.
Opening on Friday 16 June, 'Enduring Eye' tells the story of the men's attempt over 100 years ago to cross Antarctica by coast to coast. It ended in near disaster after their ship, 'Endurance', was crushed by ice.
Photographic negatives saved from the polar ice have now been digitised to provide one of the greatest ever photographic records of human survival.
At the heart of the exhibition are more than 90 dramatic images taken by the expedition's official photographer, Frank Hurley, as the men battled against the hostile polar conditions.
In addition to the photographs, visitors have the rare chance to see personal items carried through every stage of the journey. These include a tartan blanket given to expedition's Scottish geologist James Wordie by his sister, which was later worn as a shirt to ward off the extreme cold.
'Enduring Eye' has been prepared by the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers), augmented by material from the Library's own polar collections.
Read more in our exhibition media release
15 June 2017
'Lifting the lid' goes on tour
The National Library of Scotland's new touring display has opened at the Duncan Rice Library at the University of Aberdeen.
Running from 5 June to 20 August, 'Lifting the lid' tells the story of food and drink in Scotland, based on photographs and descriptions of material in the National Library's collection.
Taken from a 2015 Library exhibition, the free display tells the story of the development of the Scots diet over the past 400 years. 'Lifting the lid' moves to the New Lanark World Heritage Site in September.
The Library's touring displays will travel across Scotland until 2019, introducing Library collections to people around Scotland.
Read more in our touring display media release
5 June 2017
Poetry pamphlet competition winner announced
and Hugh McMillan (right) with Lady Marks.
Roncadora Press has won the National Library of Scotland 2017 Callum Macdonald Memorial Award.
The winning poetry pamphlet was 'Sheep Penned', written by poet Hugh McMillan and published by Hugh Bryden.
Second place was awarded to Duncan Lockerbie of Tapsalteerie Press for the pamphlet, 'tilt-shift', by Kate Tough.
Established in 2001 in memory of Callum Macdonald, the award recognises excellence in the publication of poetry pamphlets. It is funded by the Michael Marks Charitable Trust.
First prize is £1,500, and second prize is £600. The author of the winning pamphlet is also eligible for a two-week residency in Greece in July as the Michael Marks Poet in Residence at Harvard University's Center for Hellenic Studies.
Read more in our award press release
12 May 2017
Sound heritage to be preserved
Thousands of rare and unique audio recordings in Scotland are to be saved as part of a major preservation project.
The National Library of Scotland is to host one of 10 sound preservation centres in the UK being set up thanks to a £9.5 million National Lottery grant.
Led by the British Library, 'Unlocking Our Sound Heritage' will help preserve recordings threatened by physical degradation or no longer playable because equipment is obsolete.
Oral histories of the two world wars and stories of working life across different parts of Scotland are among the recordings to be saved.
Read more in our sound preservation project media release.
12 April 2017
Co-ordinator role for Muriel Spark centenary
Applications are being sought for a key role in next year's centenary celebrations marking the birth of one of Scotland's finest writers, Dame Muriel Spark.
The Muriel Spark Centenary Co-ordinator will work with a range of organisations on a programme of activity to make the centenary year truly memorable.
Spark is best known as the author of 'The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie'. She was also a self-confessed hoarder whose personal archive is now one of the largest and most comprehensive held by the National Library of Scotland.
The co-ordinator role has been established by the National Library of Scotland and Creative Scotland. A job description is available on the Engage recruitment portal, and the closing date for applications is Thursday 20 April.
For more information see our Muriel Spark co-ordinator media release.
6 April 2017