Book on Scottish Towns Wins Prestigious Book Award

Date: 18/11/2014

An exhaustive piece of academic research co-authored by history Professors Bob Harris of Oxford University and the late Charles McKean of Dundee University has beaten off stiff competition from an array of new and established names in contemporary Scottish literature to claim the 2014 Saltire Book of the Year Award, sponsored by Creative Scotland.

Winning book “The Scottish Town in the Age of Enlightenment 1740-1820” explores how Scotland's eighteenth century burghs improved themselves and the significance of this for modern understanding of a society in a state of transition.

Described by the judging panel as ‘magisterial’ and considered ‘a pioneering study of Scottish urbanisation’, the book was the product of an extensive three-year research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. It also won the 2014 Saltire Society Scottish Research Book of the Year award, supported by the National Library of Scotland.

Other writers shortlisted for the prestigious award this year included well-known broadcasters Sally Magnusson and Kirsty Wark as well as new writing talents such as Niall Campbell and Kirsty Logan and established Scottish writers and past winners including A L Kennedy and Martin MacIntyre. Other previous winners of the award include John Burnside, Alasdair Gray, Robert Crawford, Liz Lochhead, and Muriel Spark.

Now firmly established as Scotland's most prestigious annual book awards, the Saltire Literary Awards celebrate and support literary and academic excellence across six distinct categories with the winner of each of the five individual book categories going forward to be considered for the Saltire Book of the Year award.

Commenting on winning his Award, Professor Bob Harris said:

To win this award in a country with such a rich tradition of writing, making and reading books is a huge honour, and also a wonderful way to mark the major contribution made by my co-author, Charles McKean, to understanding Scotland's very distinctive urban and architectural history.

For more information contact Alex Pryce (AHRC) on 01793 41 6025 or

Notes to Editors

  • The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK.


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