With just five weeks to go before a referendum on September 18th in which Scotland will decide whether or not they’ll end the 307-year union they have with England, we thought it would be nice to bring you some of 4th Estate and latterly Harper Perrenial’s most loved Scottish books. These titles draw on Scottish history and what it is to be Scottish, set against the beautiful backdrop of the Scottish land and waters.
The Silver Dark Sea – Susan Fletcher
Off the coast of Scotland, the islanders of Parla are still mourning the loss of one of their own. Four years since that loss, and a man – un-named, unclothed – is washed onto their shores. Some say he is a mythical man from the sea – potent, kind and beautiful; others suspect him. For the bereft Maggie, this stranger brings love back to the isle. But as the days pass he changes every one of them – and the time comes for his story to be told…
The Life & Death of St Kilda: The Moving Story of a Vanished Island Community – Tom Steel
Situated at the westernmost point of the United Kingdom, the spectacularly beautiful but utterly bleak island of St Kilda is familiar to virtually nobody. A lonely archipelago off the coast of Scotland, it is hard to believe that for over two thousand years, men and women lived here, cut off from the rest of the world. With the onset of the First World War, things changed. For the very first time in St Kilda’s history, daily communication was established between the islanders and the mainland. Slowly but surely, this marked the beginning of the end of St Kilda and in August 1930, the island’s remaining 36 inhabitants were evacuated.
Living With The Laird: A Love Affair With A Man and His Mansions – Belinda Rathbone
When Belinda Rathbone, a New York art historian, met eccentric Anglo-Scots bachelor John Ouchterlony it was the start of a story of clashing cultures and crumbling houses. After a whirlwind romance she married the man – and his 400 acre estate and decrepit mansion in Scotland. In her charming and moving account of their time together she reveals her many discoveries about this strange world – not just the persistence of lino, and family history ancient and recent, but the value of dead elms, the art of the Aga, yoga with the aristocracy, and the vitally important business of producing an heir…
Arthur Herman argues that Scotland’s turbulent history, from William Wallace to the Presbyterian Lords of the Covenant, laid the foundations for ‘the Scottish miracle’. Within one hundred years, the nation that began the eighteenth century dominated by the harsh and repressive Scottish Kirk had evolved into Europe’s most literate society, producing an idea of modernity that has shaped much of civilisation as we know it. He follows the lives and work of thinkers such as Adam Smith and David Hume, writers such as Burns and Boswell, as well as architects, technicians and inventors, and traces their legacy into the twentieth century. Written with wit, erudition and clarity, The Scottish Enlightenment claims the Scots’ rightful place in the history of the western world.
The Lighthouse Stevensons – Bella Bathurst
‘Whenever I smell salt water, I know that I am not far from one of the works of my ancestors,’ wrote Robert Louis Stevenson in 1880. ‘When the lights come out at sundown along the shores of Scotland, I am proud to think they burn more brightly for the genius of my father!’ An exciting new edition of Bella Bathurst’s epic story of Robert Louis Stevenson’s ancestors and the building of the Scottish coastal lighthouses against impossible odds.