National Library of Scotland events are free and take place in our George IV Bridge Building, unless we state otherwise.
List updated: 19 September.
The Whisky Muse, Vol 2
Robin Laing takes a lyrical tour of the history and lore surrounding Scotland's national drink. 'The Whisky Muse, Vol 2' is an ode to both whisky and the country where its stories began, with poems steeped in legend and songs to evoke the foot-stamping and rowdy camaraderie of folk tunes performed in a cosy tavern. Come along for many a tale of legend, adventure, chaos and love, all in tribute to Scotland's favourite tipple.
Thursday 20 September
Free. Book 'The Whisky Muse, Vol 2' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Transatlantic women in the archives
Explore the legacies of twentieth-century women writers in this event, which is part of the Transatlantic Literary Women series. Four speakers share their experiences of recovering the works and lives of women whose identities were shaped by both sides of the Atlantic. Join us to learn about Scottish explorer Isobel Wylie Hutchison, American novelist Edith Wharton, and Jamaican poet and broadcaster Una Marson amongst others. For more information visit the Transatlantic literary women website.
Tuesday 25 September
Free. This event is now fully booked.
If I Survive:
Frederick Douglass and family's 'Struggle for Liberty'
This talk marks the opening of our Treasures display: 'Strike For Freedom: Slavery, Civil War and the Frederick Douglass Family in the Walter O Evans Collection'. Professor Celeste-Marie Bernier, Chair of Black Studies at the University of Edinburgh, traces the celebrated life of anti-slavery author and activist Frederick Douglass. She also uncovers the hidden lives of his children: Rosetta, Lewis, Charles, Frederick Jr and Annie. Sharing untold stories of romance, hope, despair, love, life, death, war, and friendship, she reveals how the Douglass family fought together for a new 'dawn of freedom'.
Thursday 4 October
Free. Book 'If I Survive' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Macmillan coffee morning
Join us to support the World's Biggest Coffee Morning. Home-baked cakes, hot drinks and sweet treats will be for sale, with all proceeds going to Macmillan cancer support. Come along and enjoy cake, a cuppa and a chat in aid of charity.
Monday 8 October
No need to book, just drop in.
An Evening with Jane Stirling
Scotswoman Jane Stirling was Frédéric Chopin's pupil and friend in the ultimate years of his life. This event combines music and word to tell her story, rarely-heard for the past two centuries. Polish musician Anna Dębowska plays a variety of Chopin's compositions, set into context by accompanying narration from Marcin Jaroszek. Fusing the past and present, the evening offers a musical voyage back to 1848, when Chopin spent some of the last years of his life on Caledonian soil.
Wednesday 10 October
Free. Book 'An Evening with Jane Stirling' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
John Murray 250th Anniversary Lecture:
Dear Mr Murray: Letters to a Gentleman Publisher
The John Murray publishing house celebrates its 250th anniversary this year. To mark this occasion, author David McClay reveals the stories of some of the hundreds of thousands of letters in the Library’s archive. These letters shed light on the background to some of the most influential books in history. They also reveal the remarkable friendships — and occasional animosities — between author and publisher, as well as readers, editors, printers and illustrators.
A small selection of letters written to John Murray by famous authors, including Lord Byron and Mary Somerville, will be on display to accompany the talk.
Tuesday 16 October
Free. Book 'John Murray 250th Anniversary Lecture' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Scottish International Storytelling Festival 2018
Celtic traditions is at the heart of this year's annual festival, celebrating the art of storytelling. We are hosting varied events including talks, a play, a walking tour and a special viewing of some of our Gaelic manuscripts.
Monday 22 October to Monday 29 October
Please note there is a charge for some of these events. Read more about Scottish International Storytelling Festival at the Library.
Everything you can do with online maps
We now have over 200,000 online maps, and a very wide range of ways of using them. This talk by Chris Fleet, Map Curator, aims to illustrate the potential as well as the future direction of the maps website. Chris speaks about the main map collections, how to find them, and the value of georeferencing. He also takes a behind-the-scenes look at map digitisation, and reveals the programmes we use to put maps online.
Tuesday 23 October
Free. Book 'Everything you can do with online maps' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Northern Lighthouse Board
Northern Lighthouse Board (NLB) has provided a vital safety service to mariners since 1786. They currently operate and maintain 206 lighthouses and 167 buoys, making a significant contribution to preventing accidents and incidents around the coastline. Not only do they safeguard lives and property, they also protect the marine environment which is crucial to the economy of Scotland and the Isle of Man. Find out more about NLB's rich heritage and the work they carry out today in this engaging and informative talk.
Tuesday 30 October
Free. Book 'Northern Lighthouse Board' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Presidential power and midterm loss
On 6 November, Americans will vote in the midterm elections, a chance to give their verdict on the Trump administration's record so far. Over the past 150 years, the president's party has lost seats in Congress at midterm on all but three occasions. But in an era when so many political constants have been upended, will that 'law' still hold? In this talk, Andrew Rudalevige tracks the history of midterm elections and discusses their importance for presidents and their policy agendas. Dr Rudalevige, from Bowdoin College, is a leading scholar of the US presidency, and author of 'The New Imperial Presidency'.
Thursday 1 November
Free. Book 'Presidential power and midterm loss' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
The only home they knew
Join author Anne Black as she takes us on an illustrated journey through her book 'The Only Home They Knew'. The book chronicles the First World War through the experiences of the staff and boys of the Aberlour Orphanage, as recounted in their diaries and letters. Reading from staff diaries, and old boys' letters (sent back as they fought across Europe and beyond), Anne shares some of the situations they faced throughout the First World War.
Monday 5 November
Free. Book 'The only home they knew' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
The 51st (Highland) Division 1914-1919
An illustrated talk by author Colin Campbell about the 51st (Highland) Division in the First World War. The Division recruited from the counties above the Forth and Clyde canal and Renfrewshire, but also incorporated the Royal Scots battalions from Edinburgh and Lothian. It began as a Territorial Force with a home defence role, and rose to world fame as a first class assault division. Ahead of the reprinting of his book: 'The 51st (Highland) Division in the Great War. Engine of Destruction, by Pen and Sword', Colin charts this division's remarkable story.
Tuesday 6 November
Free. Book 'The 51st (Highland) Division 1914-1919' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Motherhood, loss and legacy
Join artist and storyteller Jan Bee Brown for an afternoon of stories, poetry, and song exploring the legacy of 'loss' following the First World War. Jan will be joined by fellow storytellers and two local choirs as they explore the theme of motherhood and loss. You are also invited to bring along your own family stories, letters, images, or artwork to share over tea and coffee. Event sponsored by Big Ideas Project.
Saturday 10 November
Free. Book 'Motherhood, loss and legacy' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Annual Muriel Spark lecture:
Time, ballads and homicidal hilarity: Muriel Spark: poet
Muriel Spark began writing poetry before prose and considered herself to be a poet. But what sort of poet was she? Could her novels be read as poems? Few novels beside Spark's capture that sense of what Norman MacCaig once called 'the homicidal hilarity of a laugh in a ballad'. In this talk, Professor Alan Riach looks at Spark's work and considers how the meanings and ambiguities of poetry versus literature might be interpreted.
Tuesday 13 November
Free. Book 'Annual Muriel Spark lecture' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
The Fulbright Lecture
The current Fulbright-National Library of Scotland Scholar is Gregory Baldi, an associate professor of political science at Western Illinois University. His research focuses on the development of political and social institutions in Western Europe. Greg's lecture explores US, German and British relations in the run up to, and reunification of, Germany considering the legacy of reunification and the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Tuesday 20 November
Free. Book 'The Fulbright Lecture' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Walk this way
Travel writer Gary Sutherland could never fathom hillwalkers and had always managed to ignore the West Highland Way despite living on the doorstep of Scotland's most famous trail. Then one day he decided to tackle it, along with the Great Glen Way and Speyside Way. Join the intrepid author for an illustrated and humour-filled talk about his adventures. He describes his journey from Loch Lomond to the Devil's Staircase, the Caledonian Canal to Loch Ness and Malt Whisky Country to the mouth of the River Spey.
Thursday 29 November
Free. Book 'Walk this way' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.
Christmas shopping day
Join us for our annual Christmas shopping day, with yuletide bargains and festive treats galore; we're sure we'll have something for everyone. Enjoy a 15% discount on everything in our shop. Once you’ve shopped, relax with our festive entertainment. A delightful way to see in the Christmas season.
Thursday 6 December
No need to book, just drop in.
250 years of the Encyclopaedia Britannica
Joint Edinburgh Bibliographical Society and National Library lecture
10 December 2018 marks the 250th anniversary of the publication of the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. In this lecture, Professor Stephen Brown will discuss the origins of the encyclopaedia under the editorship of William Smellie. He considers Britannica's 'accidental authority' and the unlikelihood of it attaining success and iconic status.
Thursday 13 December
Free. Book '250 years of the Encyclopaedia Britannica' on Eventbrite or phone 0131 623 3734.