"Edinburgh's Literary Heritage and How it Changed the World" by Jan-Andrew Henderson is a really outstanding book that we'd highly recommend for anyone with an interest in Edinburgh or literature (or, of course, both).
The author sets the scene in his introduction. "When I say Literary Edinburgh, I don't just mean books. I also mean authors, journals, publishers, editors and, to some extent, the city itself. Together they created causal chains of events and influences that shaped the course of history. This book is partly the story of how it happened. It's also a tribute to the many writers and publications involved (some lauded, some forgotten) and the roles they played. Lastly it's a guide to the landmarks that give their presence lasting physical form - from birthplaces to gravestones."
The book is divided into eleven chronological chapters, including "Once Upon a Time"; "Late Seventeenth Century: Things Get Spooky"; "Early Nineteenth Century: The Practical Era"; and "Late Twentieth Century: All Fur Coat and No Knickers". As an example, let's look at the third of these, "Early Nineteenth Century: The Practical Era". Over thirteen pages we are given an engaging and highly readable account of the literary scene in Edinburgh two centuries ago, complete with over a dozen colour photographs. After a brief introduction we look at the founding of "The Edinburgh Review", complete with fun facts and related landmarks in the city. A further fourteen significant publications of the period are then given the same treatment, including "Rob Roy" by Sir Walter Scott; "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley; and "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens. The chapter concludes with shorter coverage of a further eight "Works of Note".
Perhaps the best way to assess the value of a book of this sort is to consider what's likely to happen to it once it's first been read. It's all-too common for a book, however interesting it may be at first sight, to be consigned ever afterwards to a bookshelf, only being removed for an occasional dusting. "Edinburgh's Literary Heritage", in contrast, is a book we can see ourselves referring back to time and again as we plan excursions into what we firmly believe is the best city on Earth.