Ex libris David Hume

Recently we had an opportunity to acquire a volume with five works by the French writer, historian and philosopher Voltaire (François-Marie Arouet) (1694-1778). They were printed between 1766 and 1769. But the really exciting thing about the volume (RB.s.2875(1-5)) is not its contents, but its provenance: it was formerly in the library of the eminent Scottish philosopher David Hume (1711-1776)! We […]

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A picturesque marriage proposal

A picturesque scene from Lady Anne Barnard’s 1772 ballad “Auld Robin Gray” is depicted in this hand-coloured mezzotint print (AP.5.213.13). Robin, an older Scotsman, is asking for a young girl’s hand. The girl, Jenny, is sitting at a spinning-wheel and Robin, wearing a kilt and tartan hose, and her mother are standing close-by outside a cottage. While Robin and Jenny’s mother are looking at her […]

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Rare Books Signed by Notable Authors

My name is Annemarie Maimone and I am a postgraduate student at the University of Edinburgh interning in the National Library of Scotland’s Rare Book Collections Department. While doing provenance research, I came across a few books in the collection of particular interest because they contain the signatures and inscriptions of notable authors. The items […]

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An Early Book for Bird Breeders

 Despite its title, The bird-fancier’s companion (RB.s.2851) isn’t a guide for bird watchers, but a manual on how to breed canaries. Published in Edinburgh in 1763, the book introduces different breeds of canary and offers some advice about how to choose from the birds imported by German traders. The book goes on to cover breeding of canaries, health […]

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Robert Burns in America

The Library has acquired a collection of individual issues of the Pennsylvania Packet and Daily Advertiser newspaper from 1787 through to 1788, which probably contain the first examples of Robert Burns’s work in print in the USA! Each issue prints a poem or song by Burns to give American readers a taster of his poetry. […]

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National Poetry Day

Today is National Poetry Day! I’d like to celebrate this event by showcasing how a poem can act as a link between nations, in this case between Scotland and Germany. In 1802, Walter Scott published his Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border (Bk.5/1.3-4), a collection of “historical and romantic ballads, collected in the southern counties of Scotland”, as the subtitle said. […]

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More Scott for Russians

We recently acquired two very rare translations into Russian of Walter Scott’s epic poems The Lay of the Last Minstrel and Rokeby. Scott was probably the most popular foreign author in Russia in the 19th century. The Lay of the Last Minstrel was first published in 1805. The Russian translation (RB.s.2828), in prose rather than verse, […]

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Scott for Young Russians

  We recently acquired an adaption of Sir Walter Scott’s novel “Kenilworth“, an adventure story set during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1533-1603) with a bit of a tragic ending. What makes this acquisition so interesting is not that it is aimed at younger readers, but that it’s a Russian adaptation! It was printed in Moscow and St […]

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