Book Lovers' Tour

Allan Foster, a writer whose name is practically synonymous with Edinburgh literary tourism, is our guide on the Book Lovers’ Tour, which specialises in introducing tourists to the literary haunts of some of Scotland’s most renowned writers. The tour focuses on the likes of Sir Walter Scott (Waverley novels), R.L. Stevenson (Treasure Island, The Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes books), J.M. Barrie (Peter Pan), Alexander McCall Smith (No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency), crime writer Ian Rankin and of course, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. Although Robert Burns is cited on the advertisements, no reference is made to him throughout; Foster runs a separate tour for Burns fans.

Foster’s tour is engaging, extremely well-informed and makes for a very entertaining couple of hours in Edinburgh

Foster is very informed in his subject matter, and is able to answer any question thrown at him. His storytelling was very vivid and engaging, and he managed to personalise these well, which made it incredibly enjoyable for his audience; this creates an intimate experience which included every member of the group. His selection of stories were varied, and well-geared towards the group. He is able to provide enough background detail so that those with little or no knowledge of the authors would enjoy the tour just as much as someone who has studied them and read them many times over. He seems well-connected in the literary world, and makes it feel like a real privilege to see Edinburgh through his knowledgeable eyes.

Occasionally, the tour seemed a little rushed: the less mobile of the group did struggle to keep up, and it sometimes felt that he was hurrying slightly, or that he was growing impatient. Certain aspects of the actual route could have been improved: at the beginning especially, the long hilly detour down to the Cowgate seemed unnecessary, as the stories were fairly insubstantial and an alternative route may have allowed for fewer hills and more material, without excessively long sections of just walking in between. He did a good job of keeping the group off the Royal Mile, always a good idea during the Fringe. Occasionally, his volume dropped a little, making it hard for him to be heard, as he didn’t always bunch the group in closely as tour guides are often recommended to do.

Not a single person will have left the tour without learning something; even as a former Edinburgh guide and final year English literature student at the University, I found myself learning facts about Edinburgh’s wealth of literary history that I would never before have fathomed. Foster’s tour is engaging, extremely well-informed and makes for a very entertaining couple of hours in Edinburgh for visitors and lifelong residents alike. 

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The Blurb

A guided walking tour visiting the sites and haunts of Edinburgh’s literary legends: Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, J M Barrie, Alexander McCall Smith, Ian Rankin, J K Rowling and others in the company of Allan Foster, author of The Literary Traveller in Edinburgh. ‘This tour gives you a sense of the real Edinburgh that is overlooked by many tourists. It is an experience you should not miss!' (National Geographic). ‘Allan Foster’s personal odyssey. By far the best tour of the city in many a long day’ (Times).

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