The Writers’ Museum, housed in Lady Stair’s House at the Lawnmarket, on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, presents the lives of three of the foremost Scottish writers: Robert Burns, Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. Run by the City of Edinburgh Council, the collection includes portraits, works and personal objects. Lady Stair's House was built in 1622 for Sir William Gray of Pittendrum, but the interior has been converted since then. The lintel over the entrance is dated 1622 and carries the initials WG and GS, for William Gray and Geida (or Egidia) Smith, his wife, and the inscription "FEARE THE LORD AND DEPART FROM EVILL". The building was initially known as Lady Gray's House. The tenement is now named after the Gray's granddaughter, society beauty Lady Stair (Elizabeth, Dowager Countess of Stair; née Elizabeth Dundas), the widow of John Dalrymple, 1st Earl of Stair. She purchased the building in 1719. Following a proposal by Patrick Geddes, in 1893 it was bought by Archibald Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery, a descendant of Lady Stair's first husband, and restored by George Shaw Aitken during 1896-7. In 1907, the Earl gave the house to the royal burgh of Edinburgh, for use as a municipal museum.
Robert Burns (25 January 1759 – 21 July 1796), also known as Rabbie Burns, the Bard of Ayrshire and various other names and epithets, was a Scottish poet and lyricist. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland and is celebrated worldwide. He is the best known of the poets who have written in the Scots language, although much of his writing is also in English and a light Scots dialect, accessible to an audience beyond Scotland. He also wrote in standard English, and in these writings his political or civil commentary is often at its bluntest. He is regarded as a pioneer of the Romantic movement, and after his death he became a great source of inspiration to the founders of both liberalism and socialism, and a cultural icon in Scotland and among the Scottish diaspora around the world. Celebration of his life and work became almost a national charismatic cult during the 19th and 20th centuries, and his influence has long been strong on Scottish literature.
Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet, FRSE (15 August 1771 – 21 September 1832) was a Scottish historical novelist, playwright and poet with many contemporary readers in Europe, Australia, and North America. Scott's novels and poetry are still read, and many of his works remain classics of both English-language literature and of Scottish literature. Famous titles include Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, Old Mortality, The Lady of the Lake, Waverley, The Heart of Midlothian and The Bride of Lammermoor. Although primarily remembered for his extensive literary works and his political engagement, Scott was an advocate, judge and legal administrator by profession, and throughout his career combined his writing and editing work with his daily occupation as Clerk of Session and Sheriff-Depute of Selkirkshire. A prominent member of the Tory establishment in Edinburgh, Scott was an active member of the Highland Society and served a long term as President of the Royal Society of Edinburgh (1820–32). The son of a Writer to the Signet (solicitor), Scott was born in 1771 in his Presbyterian family's third-floor flat on College Wynd in the Old Town of Edinburgh, a narrow alleyway leading from the Grassmarket to the gates of the old University of Edinburgh. He survived a childhood bout of polio in 1773 that left him lame, a condition that was to have a significant effect on his life and writing.
Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson (13 November 1850 – 3 December 1894) was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer. His most famous works are Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. A literary celebrity during his lifetime, Stevenson now ranks among the 26 most translated authors in the world. His works have been admired by many other writers, including Jorge Luis Borges, Bertolt Brecht, Marcel Proust, Arthur Conan Doyle, Henry James, Cesare Pavese, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling, Jack London, Vladimir Nabokov, J. M. Barrie, and G. K. Chesterton, who said of him that he "seemed to pick the right word up on the point of his pen, like a man playing spillikins." Stevenson was born at 8 Howard Place, Edinburgh, Scotland, on 13 November 1850 to Thomas Stevenson (1818–87), a leading lighthouse engineer, and his wife Margaret Isabella (née Balfour; 1829–97). Lighthouse design was the family's profession: Thomas's father (Robert's grandfather) was the famous Robert Stevenson, and both of Thomas's brothers (Robert's uncles) Alan and David, were in the same field.
Visitors to the museum can see portraits, rare books and personal objects including Burns’ writing desk, the printing press on which Scott’s Waverley Novels were first produced, and Scott’s own dining table and rocking horse. They have Robert Louis Stevenson’s riding boots and the ring given to him by a Samoan chief, engraved with the name ‘Tusitala’, meaning ‘teller of tales’. There is also a plaster cast of Robert Burns' skull, one of only three ever made. Even if you’re not a bookworm, it’s well worth a visit. Unfortunately, Access to the Writers’ Museum is by stairs only, due to the historic nature of the building and is thus not accessible to wheelchair users. Assistance dogs are welcome.
Location : Lady Stairs House, Lady Stairs Close, Lawnmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2PA
Transport: Waverley (National Rail) 10 minutes. Bus Routes : 23, 27, 29, 41, 42 and 67 stop near by
Opening Times : Monday to Saturday 10:00 to 17:00; Sunday 12:00 to 17:00
Tickets : Free; Donations Welcome.
Tel: 0131 529 4901