National Library of Scotland events are free and take place in our George IV Bridge Building, unless we state otherwise.
List updated: 19 June.
Monarch of the Green
Young Tom Morris, pioneer of modern golf
Golf's first celebrity superstar was young Tom Morris, son of the legendary golf pioneer, Tom Morris. Born when golf was becoming more affordable and popular, 'Tommy' and his vibrant persona set golf on a path to becoming the worldwide spectator sport we know today. In this talk, Florida-based journalist and avid golfer Stephen Proctor presents a stirring and evocative history of Tommy's life. He shows how this young superstar dominated the sport like few others have ever done.
Thursday 27 June
Free. Book 'Monarch of the Green: Young Tom Morris, pioneer of modern golf on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
A guide by Sheila Szatkowski
Edinburgh was the intellectual hub of the Western world in the 18th century. Adam Smith, David Hume and others wrote about philosophy and political economy, while pioneers like James Hutton and Joseph Black were innovating in science, medicine, law and architecture. Great civic improvements, made in the New Town, breathed new life into the old medieval city. In this talk, writer and historian Sheila Szatkowski illuminates the Scottish Enlightenment through noteworthy buildings and people of 18th and early 19th-century Edinburgh.
Thursday 27 June
Free. This event is now fully booked.
Raising the white flag
Surrender was more frequent in the American Civil War than any other American war. Beginning with surrender at Fort Sumter, it ended with a series of surrenders, most famously at Appomattox Courthouse. In the intervening years, both Union and Confederate forces often surrendered. Dr David Silkenat's book: 'Raising the White Flag: How Surrender Defined the American Civil War' explores this. In this talk he considers why surrender mattered and how it shaped the bloodiest conflict in American history.
Wednesday 3 July
Free. Book 'Raising the white flag' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
The Scottish Enlightenment
The Faculty of Advocates Library was of central importance in the Scottish Enlightenment, with close connections to many of the country’s most renowned 18th-century intellectuals. Accompanying the exhibition, 'Northern Lights, the Scottish Enlightenment', the roles of two of the Library’s most influential librarians are explored. Curators Robert Betteridge and Ralph McLean reflect on Thomas Ruddiman, whose 50-year career shaped the Library's early history. David Hume is also considered, who used the Library’s collections for his historical research to great effect.
Thursday 4 July
Free. Book 'Northern lights: The Scottish Enlightenment' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
The Sea Kings
The archipelagic kingdoms of Man and the Isles flourished from the end of the 11th century to the middle of the 13th century. These kingdoms represent two forgotten realms of the medieval British Isles. In his book 'The Sea Kings: The Late Norse Kingdoms of Man and the Isles, c. 1066-1275', Dr Andrew McDonald explores these medieval water worlds. Discussing his work, he uncovers crucial and largely unknown aspects of Scotland’s medieval history.
Thursday 11 July
Free. Book 'The Sea Kings' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Citizen of Nowhere?
In his life and works Lord Byron showed interest in an array of different cultures and demonstrated support for peoples against Empires. He was 'born for opposition' and frequently promoted the individual, which together with his Anglo-Scottish genes, contributed to making Byron's own rootedness and ideas of identity complex. In this talk, sponsored by the Byron Society, Sir Drummond Bone explores concepts of nation and citizenship in Byron's poetry, drama and other writings.
Monday 15 July
Free. Book 'Byron: Nationalist? Citizen of Nowhere?' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Northern Lights exhibition discussion panel
The Faculty of Advocates Library played a key role in the Scottish Enlightenment. Former staff members like David Hume and Adam Ferguson were influential figures, and its extensive collections were heavily used by members of the literati. Manuscripts Curator Ralph McLean describes how the Library's Northern Lights exhibition came together, exploring the collections used. Guest contributors join Ralph to demonstrate how material from the Library's collections continues to contribute to Enlightenment research in the 21st century.
Wednesday 17 July
Free. Book 'Northern Lights exhibition discussion panel' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Mad, bad and looks good in pictures
Lord Byron's influence on the New Romantics
Lord Byron is considered one of the world's most influential writers. One of the more unexpected examples of his impact is seen in the late 1970s and early 1980s New Romantic movement. In this talk, Dr Emily Bernhard Jackson considers exactly how Byron shaped the New Romantics. She argues that Byron's political and artistic philosophies affected the movement, giving a serious political edge to what might at first seem nothing but surface and flash.
Thursday 25 July
Free. Book 'Mad, bad and looks good in pictures: Lord Byron's influence on the New Romantics' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Back to the Future: 1979-1989
Fringe Festival pop-up video installation
As part of the Edinburgh Fringe, we are showing a video installation that takes a reflective look back at key themes and developments of the 1980s. Setting text from our collections and images from the decade to music, this video montage takes you back through key moments in our recent history.
The installation lasts an hour and is being screened on a loop, every hour on the hour in the Library's Boardroom. Closed on Sundays.
Thursday 1 August to Friday 24 August (not Friday 9, Saturday 10, and Thursday 22 August)
Free. No need to book, just drop in.
The financial ruin of Sir Walter Scott
and how he got out of it
In 1825 Sir Walter Scott was a famed author and poet both in Britain and abroad. He also the owner of a New Town house and a country estate at Abbotsford. A year later he was financially ruined and facing huge debts. Author and journalist Ray Perman explains how Scott's fortunes were reversed. He describes how Scott avoided bankruptcy and repaid his creditors, portraying him as a man of honour who worked until his death to redeem his reputation.
Tuesday 3 September
Free. Book 'The financial ruin of Sir Walter Scott and how he got out of it' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Why did the Scottish Enlightenment happen in Edinburgh?
Murray Pittock explores what made Enlightenment possible in the Scottish capital. His book 'Enlightenment in a Smart City' uses urban innovation data, models and Smart City theory to reveal the drivers of cultural change. Newspapers, printing, the gentry's political power, patronage networks, pub and coffee-house life, and the unusually dense population of Edinburgh's Old Town were all contributing factors. Linking today's data to data from Edinburgh in 1700, Murray shows how the Enlightenment happened and how it is happening now.
Thursday 5 September
Free. Book 'Why did the Scottish Enlightenment happen in Edinburgh?' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Pru Irvine and Mary Contini bring their wealth of experience of working with food and talking with families, children, educators and politicians to this discussion. Join them as they speak frankly and openly about the disgraceful state of children's food education and the lack of support within schools. They also discuss the disconnect between the 'five a day' message and the teaching on how to feed and care for each other. It's time to talk back.
Tuesday 10 September
Free. Book 'Easy-Peasy' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
150th 'People's Friend'
Established in 1869, the 'People's Friend' magazine holds a special place in the popular literary culture of Scotland. As it celebrates its 150th anniversary, the magazine is now the subject of academic research by Charlotte Lauder, PhD student at the University of Strathclyde and National Library. At this in-conversation event, Charlotte introduces her research and discusses the important role of women in the magazine's history. She is joined by Professor Juliet Shields and current 'People's Friend' editor Angela Gilchrist.
Thursday 12 September
Free. Book '150th 'People's Friend'' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
On the British lighthouse trail
For centuries lighthouses have not only guided mariners to safety but also inspired artists, photographers, seekers of solitude and lovers of the great outdoors. In this illustrated talk, Sarah Kerr describes her attempt to visit all the lighthouses in Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. Describing her discoveries about the changing face of these treasured landmarks, she explains how her journey led to the publication of 'The British Lighthouse Trail: A Regional Guide'.
Tuesday 17 September
Free. Book 'On the British lighthouse trail' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Paolozzi at large in Edinburgh
Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005) was one of the greatest Scottish and European artists of the 20th century. Born in Leith, Edinburgh into an immigrant Italian family, his talent was exceptional, drawing on culture in all its forms. The book 'Paolozzi at large in Edinburgh' pays homage to his Edinburgh-based masterpieces, and includes poems written in tribute to his work. In this talk, authors Christine De Luca and Carlo Pirozzi discuss the creative processes of the 'grandfather' of the Pop Art movement.
Thursday 19 September
Free. Book 'Paolozzi at large in Edinburgh' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
David Hume on God
David Hume was one of the most influential minds of the Scottish Enlightenment. His writing on history, politics and philosophy continues to shape thought to this day. Author David Purdie clarifies some of Hume's most challenging texts about religion in his new book with Peter Fosl, 'David Hume on God'. Exploring Hume's writings on religious affairs, he considers a subject which was of central importance to him, adapted for a modern audience.
Thursday 26 September
Free. Book 'David Hume on God' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.