Following on from yesterday’s post, here’s the next part of my list of favourite Scottish authors in celebration of Book Week Scotland. (Not in order of preference.)
Robert Louis Stevenson – Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, name a more iconic duo, I’ll wait. There’s not an English literature student in the land that can’t tell you all about the duality of man and Stevenson’s Strange Case. Borrowed and repurposed many times over, including for a kids’ TV show in the mid-90s called Julia Jekyll and Harriet Hyde (remember that?), nothing beats the brooding gothic atmosphere of the original. You probably know the story already but if you haven’t actually read the book I’d highly recommend it!
Alasdair Gray – Author and artist Alasdair Gray is probably most famous for his masterpiece Lanark – a four-part epic of autobiography and fantastic surrealism set in a dark-mirror reflection of Glasgow – but it’s his 1992 novel Poor Things I’m chalking up on my list. A riff on the Victorian gothic, it’s a loose retelling of Frankenstein set in 19th century Glasgow and filled with fictitious historical documents – including a preface by Gray himself where he claims to have ‘discovered’ the text within – in a nod to the meta-narratives of early novels.
Louise Welsh – When I started at Strathclyde Uni in 2009, Louise Welsh was teaching creative writing there and I had the great pleasure of attending her classes. Her debut novel The Cutting Room put her on the tartan noir map (and is absolutely worthy of your time!) but it’s her 2004 follow-up Tamburlaine Must Die I’m recommending here. The historical novella is a fictional retelling of the last few days of poet and playwright (and spy) Christopher Marlowe’s life. The cloak and dagger drama of courtier life plays out against the wonderfully realised backdrop of plague-ridden 16th century London. It’s a cracker!