Inspired to find out more about the Enlightenment? We’d recommend you explore these titles below. The Edinburgh City Libraries Online Catalogue is an excellent starting point, or a visit to the Edinburgh Scottish department in the Central Library. Blackwell’s and Waterstones bookshops are doing enLIGHTen promotions! Get yourself to South Bridge and George Street, whisper enLIGHTen, and see what happens…

General  Enlightenment

Capital of the Mind, James Buchan

The Scottish Enlightenment: The Scots’ Invention of the Modern World, Arthur Herman (Fourth Estate)

The Scottish Enlightenment, Alexander Broadie (Birlinn)

Enlightenment: Britain and the Creation of the Modern World, Roy Porter  (Penguin)

The Scottish Nation: 1700-2007, T.M. Devine (Penguin)

Scotland’s Empire: 1600-1815, T.M Devine (Penguin)

General Edinburgh

Auld Reekie: An Edinburgh Anthology, Ralph Lownie (Mainstream Publishing)


Lost Edinburgh, Hamish Coghill (Birlinn)

The Making of Classical Edinburgh, A.J. Youngson (Edinburgh University Press)

Edinburgh New Town, Susan Varga (Images of Scotland, The History Press)


The Great Infidel: A Life of David Hume, Roderick Graham (Birlinn)

David Hume: The Philosopher as Historian, Nicholas Phillipson

Hume: A Very Short Introduction, A.J. Ayer (Oxford Paperbacks)

The Essential Philosophical Works, David Hume (Wordsworth Classics)

Adam Smith

Adam Smith and the Pursuit of Perfect Liberty, James Buchan

Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue, Ryan Patrick Hanley

Adam Smith: An Enlightened Life, Nicholas Phillipson

The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Adam Smith (Penguin Classics)

James Hutton

The Man Who Found Time: James Hutton and the Discovery of the Earth’s Antiquity, Jack Repcheck (Pocket Books)

Revolutions in the Earth: James Hutton and the True Age of the World, Stephen Baxter (W&N)

Hutton’s Arse: 3 Billion Years of Extraordinary Geology in Scotland’s Northern Highlands, M.H. Rider (Rider-French Consulting Limited)

James Boswell and Samuel Johnson

A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland and The Journal of a Tour to the Hebrides, James Boswell and Samuel Johnson (Birlinn, Penguin Classics)


The Man of Feeling, Henry Mackenzie (Oxford World’s Classics)

The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, Tobias Smollett

The Cottagers of Glenburnie, Elizabeth Hamilton (Association for Scottish Literature Studies)

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

Joseph Knight, James Robertson (Fourth Estate)


Selected Poems, Robert Fergusson (Polygon)

Before Burns: Eighteenth Century Scottish Poetry (Canongate Classics, Ed. Christopher Maclachlan)

The Poems of Ossian, James Macpherson (Forgotten Books)


Selected Poems, Robert Burns (Penguin Classics and Penguin Popular Classics)

A Night Out With Robert Burns: The Greatest Poems, Andrew O’Hagan (Canongate)

God, the Poet and the Devil: Robert Burns and Religion, Donald Smith (Saint Andrew Press)