Stuart Kelly

Our Friends in the North

Acts of Union and Acts of Disunion: What has held the UK together – and what is dividing it?


Profile Books 172pp £8.99 order from our bookshop

Bannockburns: Scottish Independence and Literary Imagination, 1314–2014


Edinburgh University Press 280pp £19.99 order from our bookshop

On 18 September, people eligible and registered to vote in Scotland (including 16- and 17-year-olds) will be asked ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ This year’s independence referendum provides the impetus for these two books. In both cases, the writers have had to scrutinise the past in order to contextualise the present. This means that the books could, I think, be read profitably for years to come, whatever the outcome of the vote. Both Linda Colley and Robert Crawford have expertise in the field. Colley’s Britons was a ground-breaking investigation into how Scots, perhaps more than others, contributed to a new ‘British’ identity in the wake of the 1707 Act of Union. Crawford, although a poet in his own right and a keen-eyed reader of T S Eliot, is perhaps most lauded for Devolving English Literature, his seminal book that explained how, for example, Scottish universities created the first ‘Eng Lit’ courses to facilitate their graduates making their way in England.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • In 'Silenced Voices' reports the ongoing story of the human rights lawyer, Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has been… ,
    • The mystery of Jack the Ripper's identity has long been agonised over. But what do we know about his victims?… ,
    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,
    • 'The heroic male nude could not, I think, be used today to signify civic pride and glory', as Michelangelo’s 'David… ,