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09 October
2015

Colin Salter in Krakow

As a part of our cooperation with Edinburgh City of Literature, this week we welcomed Colin Salter to Krakow. The writer came to us thanks to a grant, funded by the Consulate of the Republic of Poland, the City of Edinburgh, and the Edinburgh City of Literature Trust. The goal of the writer’s visit in Krakow is to become acquainted with the literary heritage of our city, as well as its contemporary literary landscape. Primarily, he will be looking for differences and similarities between the two Cities of Literature – Edinburgh and Krakow. Based on his experiences and reflections Salter is going to write an article, which will be used to promote our partnership, literature and participation in the UNESCO Creative Cities Network.

Both cities are not only UNESCO Cities of Literature, but they are also both on a list of World Heritage Sites, maintained by the organisation. In 1985, Krakow and Edinburgh became partner cities, and during last year’s edition of the Conrad Festival, the cooperation between the cities was renewed by the signing of a declaration concerning the strategic development of the partnership, most particularly in the area of heritage management.

Colin Salter: Biography

Colin Salter is a professional author of non-fiction literature, writing about a variety of subjects, such as popular history, science or music. His latest works concentrated on his book Science Is Beautiful (the subject of which were medical imaging techniques), a short biography of Mark Twain, movie star Johnny Depp, as well as space travel pioneer Neil Armstrong. He also wrote a series of essays on American soul music from the 60s, a guide to the architecture of Washington and a book on British bird species.

He was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and received his school education in Edinburgh, where he later went to the university and currently lives there. Before he fully devoted his time to writing, he achieved many successes in performing arts (theatre and music) and utilitarian arts (ceramics and furniture production). He currently works at Stranger Than Fiction, an association of writers of non-fiction literature in Edinburgh, which offers support and reviews to colleague 0authors, and also promotes creative non-fiction writing in the society.

In his free time, he writes a weekly article on the Internet about the issues of social history, as seen through the eyes of his great ancestors. Currently he writes the history of his family library, which was started 250 years ago by one of his ancestors from his father’s side – son of a miller, who lived five generations ago, and now it was inherited by Colin Salter after his father, English literature lecturer. The books tell the history of the family, its ability to read and write and its connections with literary groups in the beginning of the 20th century, including acquaintance with Bloomsbury Group.

Edinburgh City of Literature

In 2004 Edinburgh became the first city to participate in the UNESCO Cities of Literature network. The city was a hub of Scottish literature, which is distinguished by its centuries-old tradition. In particular, Edinburgh was an important centre of English language Enlightenment literature in the 19th century. Without doubt, the most important Scottish writer was Sir Walter Scott, known primarily as an author of Ivanhoe, a romantic historical novel, published in 1820. Among other prominent writers from Edinburgh there is Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of stories about Sherlock Holmes, which became an archetype for the modern detective fiction, as well as Robert Louis Stevenson, author of the classic adventure stories such as Treasure Island and Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. J.M. Barrie, author of the famous play for children, Peter Pan, studied at the University of Edinburgh.

The literary heritage of the city is not limited only to prose. Many of the prominent historical figures lived there, such as one of the most important philosophers of the Enlightened, David Hume, or the father of modern economics, Adam Smith. Charles Darwin also studied at the University of Edinburgh.

Today, influential writers still live in the city. The most prominent of them is Irvine Welsh, one of the pioneers of the cyberpunk genre. His best-known book is Trainspotting, which presents the lives of Scottish drug addicts from the lowest parts of the society, as well as Porno, Filth and Glue. Welsh writes his books with perfectly used Scottish city slang, therefore his books are sometimes hard to comprehend for the uninitiated. J.K. Rowling, the British writer, began writing her popular Harry Potter series in a café in Edinburgh.

You can learn more about Edinburgh here.