Edinburgh Picturesque Notes written by Robert Louis Stevenson (RLS) was first published in 1879 but is now out of copyright. The only changes made to the original text were to add a number of additional paragraphs to make the pages more readable.
Essentially a series of essays, Picturesque Notes is often seen as a social commentary. Sometimes tongue in cheek and definitely controversial when first published, this wonderful book is filled with vivid, occasionally dark descriptions of different parts of Edinburgh as they were in the 19th century: Old Town, Parliament Close, Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, New Town, Morningside, Calton Hill and the Pentlands.
Included in the text are a number of links to further information about some of the people and places mentioned. All the links lead to articles on Truly Edinburgh.
Stevenson included this footnote in response to the initial criticism of his work
“These sentences have, I hear, given offence in my native town, and a proportionable pleasure to our rivals of Glasgow. I confess the news caused me both pain and merriment. May I remark, as a balm for wounded fellow-townsmen, that there is nothing deadly in my accusations? Small blame to them if they keep ledgers: ’tis an excellent business habit. Churchgoing is not, that ever I heard, a subject of reproach; decency of linen is a mark of prosperous affairs, and conscious moral rectitude one of the tokens of good living. It is not their fault it the city calls for something more specious by way of inhabitants.
“A man in a frock-coat looks out of place upon an Alp or Pyramid, although he has the virtues of a Peabody and the talents of a Bentham. And let them console themselves – they do as well as anybody else; the population of (let us say) Chicago would cut quite as rueful a figure on the same romantic stage. To the Glasgow people I would say only one word, but that is of gold; I have not yet written a book about Glasgow.”