Fictional Characters Born In Scotland by Trudi Cueto
Although there are some characters who are synonymous with Scotland, whether they were created here or not there are others who have had the pleasure of simply being born here. Scottish writers have created characters from around the world who still maintain a sense of Scotland and here we’re looking at some of the most memorable ones out there.
He’s certainly not Scottish but his background is. The world’s most famous detective who made London his home was the creation of one of Scotland’s most famous authors – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Conan Doyle also based Holmes’ character in part on Edinburgh surgeon Dr Joseph Bell. Holmes has regularly escaped the page making it onto TV screens and into cinemas.
Inspector John Rebus
The most famous of Ian Rankin’s creations Rebus is Scotland through and through. The protagonist in a long series of Edinburgh based police procedural novels and the hard-boiled nature of the plots has led the genre surrounding Rebus, many others copying Rankin’s style, to be known at Tartan Noir. It doesn’t get much more Scottish than that.
Without knowing his backstory there is very little to connect Crusoe with Scotland. However, with a little digging you’ll soon see that it’s widely believed that Crusoe’s story is heavily influenced by the life of Alexander Selkirk. Defoe’s research led him to Selkirk’s story – an interesting tale of a Scottish castaway who made a life for himself for four years on a remote island near Chile.
He may not be the first character you think of but Harry Potter sprung from the mind of one of Scotland’s most famous residents. Rowling made Edinburgh her home in the early nineties when she had only just started writing about the world famous teenage wizard. The idea for Potter may have been formed in Rowling’s imagination but the majority of his adventures were written as she sat in cafes across Edinburgh including The Elephant House and Nicholson’s.
Renton and Begbie
Not the most savoury characters but certainly memorable, especially after Danny Boyle’s film, Irvine Welsh’s anti-hero Renton and sociopathic sidekick Begbie are not to be forgotten. Welsh’s Leith dialect writing style is a clear indictment of the Scottish nature of his characters. Neither Renton nor Begbie could be from anywhere else but Scotland! Begbie and Renton also pop up in other Welsh novels and of course the sequel and prequel Porno and Skagboys.
Putting together a top five literary characters born in Scotland was a difficult task and when choosing them many others came to mind too. There are honourable mentions here for Muriel Spark’s Jean Brodie, the dark and gothic Frank Cauldhame from Iain Banks’ Wasp Factory and one of the first famous Scots Tam O’Shanter a creation of the great Robbie Burns.
Scotland and especially Edinburgh has a rich literary history. All of these world famous characters began life in Scotland or were inspired by it and therefore deserve a spot in our top five.
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