Any bibliophile fortunate enough to live in this labyrinthine city will appreciate that there are at least as many stories as bricks in its two towns and modest spread of suburbs. This small book, dense with historical information, quotations from children’s fiction, photos, drawings and bold, simplified maps, does an excellent job of compressing at least a sample of these stories between its pages. It ranges beyond the world of children’s books, though more than 30 living members of the trade contribute entertaining comments and extracts from their work. The editors conduct the reader on a walking tour of the city, introducing the lives and stories of its writers and other residents via traces left in its streets: Robert Ferguson, who died in Bedlam at the age of 24 with a handful of poems to his name, striding in bronze down the Canongate just yards away from his own grave, where another two Roberts, Burns and Stevenson, both left mementoes; Deacon Brodie, carpenter, housebreaker and inspiration for Jekyll and Hyde, who was first to be hanged on the gallows he’d designed himself; the Surgeons’ Hall, an Aladdin’s cave of spectacular human remains, where Conan Doyle’s observations of the observations of Joseph Bell inspired the creation of Sherlock Holmes. There are inevitably some omissions, notably Stevenson’s encouraging message to despairing students on a plaque near Rutherford’s Tavern in Drummond Street (in the Gents of which devotees of the noble Tusitala can still pee a pint or two against the same stone wetted by the great man himself in his own boozy student days) and the forlorn little inscription to the great Doggerelist McGonagall at the opposite end of Greyfriars to the grave of that stupid terrier. However, I can recommend the book highly to both visitors and residents, on the grounds that it’s given me plenty of freshly informed inspiration for future walks in streets I’ve been roaming for several years.
http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png 0 0 Richard Hill http://booksforkeeps.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/bfklogo.png Richard Hill2007-11-01 13:05:372023-02-01 13:10:38Reading Round Edinburgh: A Guide to Children’s Books of the City
Illustrator: Adrian B McMurchie