Exhibition recounts Audubon's adventures in Edinburgh
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One of the world's most magnificent and valuable books is a key feature in the National Library of Scotland's summer exhibition.
A volume of John James Audubon's famous 'Birds of America' is on loan to us from Renfrewshire Council Education and Leisure Services. From 4 July to 15 October, it is on display in 'Birds of a feather: Audubon's Adventures in Edinburgh'. Our free exhibition introduces seven influential men Audubon met during his visits to Edinburgh, from 1826 to 1839, who made 'Birds of America' possible. Among them was Sir Walter Scott.
In the 1820s Audubon was a wildlife artist struggling to get his glorious bird paintings published. Today his portrait hangs in the White House, and six years ago a complete four-volume set of his book sold for an amazing $8.8 million.
Original plates from the book are also on show at 'Birds of a Feather', and we have recreated a typical engraver's workshop. A programme of events to complement the exhibition runs until October. See our press release and exhibition pages for further details.
The exhibition opens on a significant NLS anniversary. Fifty years ago on 4 July the Queen opened our George IV Bridge Building. Our feature 'Celebrating 50 years' highlights a different item from our collections every week.
30 June 2006
'Sherlock Holmes' manuscript donated by Conan Doyle estate
The original manuscript of a Sherlock Holmes story is being donated today to the National Library of Scotland.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote 'The Adventure of the Illustrious Client' in 1924. Three years later it was published as the first story in the last Sherlock Holmes compilation, 'The Casebook of Sherlock Holmes'. Set in 1902, it tells how the famous fictional detective saved a young Englishwoman from a potentially deadly marriage.
The manuscript was bequeathed by the author's daughter, who died in 1997. It is officially handed over this afternoon by the executor of Dame Jean Conan Doyle's estate, Charles Foley. This is the latest addition to our collection of Arthur Conan Doyle's papers. Read our Sherlock Holmes press release for more information.
29 June 2006
Festival event to look at power and politics
Brian Taylor, BBC Scotland's Political Editor, will deliver the National Library of Scotland's annual lecture at the Edinburgh International Book Festival.
The theme for this year's Donald Dewar Memorial Lecture is 'Scottish powerplay'. Regarded as a veteran of Scotland's political scene, Taylor is well placed to look at who is really in charge of Scotland today. He also knew Donald Dewar (1937-2000), Scotland's first First Minister, extremely well. Chairing the proceedings will be journalist Ruth Wishart.
The National Library of Scotland Donald Dewar Memorial Lecture was initiated five years ago. It is now one of the book festival's key events.
18 June 2006
Modern football — invented in Scotland!
Scottish historians have discovered that football as we know it today was invented in Scotland.
While the World Cup is played out in Germany, the book which contains this surprising information is on temporary display in a German museum. Part of the National Library of Scotland's collections, 'Vocabula' is a Latin text which proves that organised football was being played in Scotland 230 years before it was introduced in England.
The book was written by Aberdeen schoolteacher David Wedderburn, and first published in 1636. It describes aspects of the game - including goalkeepers and passing the ball - that were thought to have originated in England in the 1860s or later. The discovery was made recently when historians found an English translation of the text.
Our copy of the 1709 edition is part of the 'Fascination Football' exhibition in Hamburg's Museum für Völkerkunde. It is expected to be seen by thousands of fans of 'the beautiful game' during the World Cup.
14 June 2006
Prepare to celebrate 500 years of printing
'First Scottish Books'
Planning is under way for a programme of events to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the printing of the first book in Scotland.
At an event in the National Library of Scotland, a website was launched which organisers hope will encourage people around the country to think about ways of marking this significant anniversary in 2008. Leading the anniversary project, '500 Years of Printing in Scotland' are the Scottish Printing Archival Trust, the Scottish Print Employers Federation and NLS.
The earliest dated book printed in Scotland came off a press in Edinburgh's Cowgate. Walter Chepman and Androw Myllar printed 'the Complaint of the Black Knight', a romance by John Lydgate, on 4 April 1508. The only known copy of it is in the rare book collections at NLS, and it will be the centrepiece of our summer 2008 exhibition.
8 June 2006
More on offer with a reader's ticket
Wider access to two major web-based resources has become available to holders of a National Library of Scotland reader's ticket.
From any computer with an internet connection, readers who register for remote access can search and browse more than 39,000 American titles from the 17th and 18th centuries. 'Early American Imprints, 1639-1800' contains around 2.3 million digital pages, representing almost every published work in colonial North America and the early American republic. Anyone researching Scottish emigration and influence in North America will find this an important source of information.
With an NLS ticket, you can also now register for access to over one million entries and 5,000 images in the reference resource 'Xreferplus'. Included among the 100 high-quality reference works from the world's leading publishers are the current edition of 'Who's Who' plus the entire 'Who Was Who' archive from 1897.
These are the latest digital resources in the NLS collections to be opened up to users of the Library unable to visit us in person. (Please note, conditions apply.) The full list is displayed on our Electronic Resources Network page.
8 June 2006