Interesting Gifts

At the beginning of a New Year it is worth reflecting on one of the more curious events in Edinburgh in the past year, and bringing it to the attention of the wider legal historical community, particularly since law is a discipline of words. Edinburgh is a Unesco City of Literature. Conan Doyle was brought up and educated here; Sherlock Holmes is obviously in part inspired by one of his teachers at the Medical School. Walter Scott studied arts and law at the University, and gave great praise to his teacher Baron David Hume. Robert Louis Stevenson also studied law in the University and once even considered seeking one of the chairs in law. Among contemporary writers one need only mention Ian Rankin, Sandy McCall Smith, once a professor in the Law School, and J. K. Rowling, who studied in the now Faculty of Education, and has become a great University Benefactor.

Through the year, at various important cultural institutions, including the Poetry Library, the National Library, the Film House, the City Library, and the National Museum of Scotland, charming paper sculptures appeared with notes in support of the significance of literature. The sculptures were always appropriate for the institution: a tyrannosaurus rex bursting through a book at the Museum, for example. It is interesting to note there were quite a number of links to Ian Rankin, an Edinburgh graduate, who set out to study the novels of Muriel Spark for his doctorate. In all ten were found, finally with a farewell note that indicated the artist to be a woman.

The sculptures are exquisite. Edinburgh photographer Chris Scott has documented them. Internet searches will turn up any number of websites relating too them, but a good place to start is the blog: