We are a Canadian family on a trip to the UK. As my wife and kids sleep, I’m typing this at a coffee shop in the Stockbridge area in Edinburgh. We are exploring Britain and Scotland a bit before dropping our son off for a year of college in Manchester.
Stockbridge is a cute little area filled with coffee shops, restaurants and for reasons not clear to us from the colonies, the home to about ten charity shops (thrift shops in North America). All well laid out, exceptionally clean and each supporting a different charity. Heart and Stoke, Cancer, Oxfam etc. Books and clothes are organized and categorized. Lots of DVDs, cassette tapes and boxes full of LPs (vinyl for you millennials). Everything placed with care and attention. Even the cast offs.
Creatively, the UK is like that. Everything laid out with more care and attention. And it shows.
In the UK, writers are the rock stars.
Edinburgh tourists line up at the coffee shop where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter. Arthur Conan Doyle has his own pub and every bookshop display Ian Rankin books. Arizona born, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander book and TV series are set in Scotland. Our Airbnb included a filming location guide map for tourists. I’m sure many of the female fans lust for their own Jamie Fraser (see KC Dyers’ book, Finding Fraser).
There’s even a Writers’ Museum that showcases Robert Louis Stevenson, Robby Burns and Sir Walter Scott.
Class and exclusion are common themes in UK writing. Harry Potter is about a boy surviving boarding school. Ian Rankin’s Rebus detective series shows the underbelly of modern day Scotland, while Outlander is about a woman “not from around here”. And of course, Sherlock Holmes is all about deception, class, intelligence and the downtrodden of the British marginalized.