History of the Book in Scotland

Course Organiser: Dr Andrew Nash
3-7 July

This course aims to give students an introduction to the history of the book in Scotland from the eighteenth century to the present, with a particular focus on the production and global dissemination of works of Scottish literature. Examining books and periodicals produced both within the nation and beyond its boundaries, the course examines the intersection between books and print culture and linguistic, cultural and political debates about Scotland.

Course Outline


1 Robert Burns in his time
2 Robert Burns after his time


3 Publishing in Edinburgh to 1840: the Athens of the North
4 Scott and the Waverley phenomenon
5 The Waverley novels from the ‘Magnum Opus’ to the Victorian paperback


6 Books and literary tourism in nineteenth-century Scotland
7 ‘English Bards and Scotch Reviewers’: Romantic-period reviews and periodicals
8 Popular print culture in nineteenth-century Scotland


9 Collecting Robert Louis Stevenson: 1894-1919
10 John Buchan and Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1907-1929
11 Hugh MacDiarmid and the Scottish literary renaissance.


12 Alasdair Gray and the illustrated book: 1981-2012
13 Typographical experiments in modern Scottish fiction: printing, binding and mise en page.

Outcomes for Students

  • An understanding of the range of print production in Scotland since the eighteenth century, and the interplay between local and wider publishing ventures both within the nation and beyond its boundaries
  • An understanding of the publishing histories of major Scottish writers from Robert Burns to Alasdair Gray
  • An understanding of the global reach and influence of Scottish literature through its dissemination in print 
  • An appreciation of the intersection between the history of books and periodicals in Scotland and cultural and political debates about the nation 

Recommended Introductory Reading

Bell, Bill (ed.) The Edinburgh History of the Book in Scotland, Vol. 3: Ambition and Industry, 1800-1880 (Edinburgh: EUP, 2007)
Brown, Stephen W. and Warren McDougall, The Edinburgh History of the Book in Scotland, Vol. 2: Enlightenment and Expansion, 1707-1800 (Edinburgh: EUP, 2012) 
Finkelstein David and Alistair McCleery, The Edinburgh History of the Book in Scotland, Vol. 4: Professionalism and Diversity, 1880-2000 (Edinburgh: EUP, 2007)
Crawford, Robert, Devolving Scottish Literature (second edition, Edinburgh: EUP, 2000)
Crawford, Robert, Scotland’s Books (London: Penguin, 2007)
Glen, Duncan, Hugh MacDiarmid and the Scottish Renaissance (Edinburgh: Chambers, 1964)
Millgate, Jane Scott’s Last Edition: a Study in Publishing History (Edinburgh: EUP, 1987)

Andrew Nash is Reader in Book History and Communications at the Institute of English Studies, University of London. He was formerly Associate Professor and Head of the Department of English Literature at the University of Reading. His areas of research interest include book and publishing history from the nineteenth-century to the present, Victorian literature, and Scottish literature. His books include William Clark Russell and the Victorian Nautical Novel: Gender, Genre and the Marketplace (2014) and Kailyard and Scottish Literature (2007), as well as several edited collections including The Culture of Collected Editions (2003), and (with Simon Eliot and Ian Willison) Literary Cultures and the Material Book (2007). He has recently contributed essays on the material history of the novel to volumes 4 and 7 of the Oxford History of the Novel in English. He also contributed several essays to Volume 4 of the Edinburgh History of the Book in Scotland and Volume 6 of The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain and is currently editing (with Claire Squires and Ian Willison) Volume 7 of the Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, covering the period 1914 to the present.