Tribute to John Muir, writer and conservationist, unveiled at Makars' Court

One of Scotland’s greatest natural scientists, conservationist and campaigner, John Muir, was commemorated at Makars’ Court today (Tuesday 29 April) with the unveiling of an inscribed flagstone.

John Muir inscription

The flagstone, which has been sponsored by The John Muir Birthplace Trust, bears the inscription:

John Muir (1838 –1914)

I care to live only to entice people to look at Nature’s loveliness.

This newest addition to the growing literary monument was unveiled at a special ceremony in the capital by the Provost of East Lothian, Ludovic Broun-Lindsay, at the invitation of Councillor Richard Lewis, the city’s Culture & Sport Convener.

John Muir is the thirty-eighth Scot to be commemorated at Makars’ Court since the first stone was laid in 1997 and he will join an illustrious group of writers including Sir Walter Scott, Dame Muriel Spark, Gavin Douglas and Sorley MacLean.

Muir (1838-1914) is known as a great natural scientist and campaigner who laid the foundations of the modern conservation movement and the world-wide practice of establishing national parks. During his lifetime he wrote over 300 articles and 10 books and his writings have helped to create a conservation movement that lives to this day.

Born in Dunbar in 1838, John Muir emigrated with his parents to Wisconsin in the United States in 1849, where he later campaigned for the preservation of natural environments.  Muir received considerable recognition academically being awarded honorary literary degrees by Harvard, Wisconsin, Yale and the University of California, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters made him one of its first members in 1898.

Councillor Richard Lewis, the city’s Culture & Sport Convener, said: “It was always our intention that Makars’ Court could be encouraged to grow and develop into a Scottish national literary monument to celebrate Scotland’s greatest writers.

“Pioneer of the modern conservation movement, John Muir’s influence on national parks and nature writing gives him a much-deserved position within Makars’ Court.”

John Thomas, Chairman of the John Muir Birthplace Trust, said: “John Muir was a truly great Scot and the City of Edinburgh is to be congratulated on celebrating his writing with a flagstone in the Makars’ Court alongside other great Scottish writers.

“Prescient of modern environmental concerns it is through his writing that Muir has opened our eyes to the importance of wilderness and wild land for our survival and well-being.

“Always retaining his Scot’s tongue, Muir’s rich and colourful language resonates with an infectious enthusiasm for nature while showing great insight into its complexities. 

“Through his writing he led the way in campaigning for wild land to be recognised at the highest levels in America resulting in the establishment of the national parks, one of the pillars of modern culture and practice across the world.”  

John Muir (1838-1914) – natural scientist, conservationist and campaigner

Born in Dunbar in 1838, John Muir emigrated with his parents to Wisconsin in the United States in 1849, where he later campaigned for the preservation of natural environments.  He is being increasingly recognised as a great Scotsman who laid the foundations of the modern conservation movement and the world-wide practice of establishing national parks. John Muir’s writings inspired many.

During his lifetime he wrote over 300 articles and 10 books. Many of his books have never been out of print since they were first published, some under the title of ‘modern classics’. He wrote for pleasure, to teach others of the beauty of nature, to keep in touch with loved ones and as a campaigner, fighting to preserve the wilderness.

Muir’s writings continue to be read worldwide and helped to create a conservation movement that lives to this day. Muir received considerable recognition academically being awarded honorary literary degrees by Harvard, Wisconsin, Yale and the University of California, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters made him one of its first members in 1898.

Makar’s Court

Makars’ Court at the Writers’ Museum celebrates the achievements of Scottish writers. It is the intention that Makars’ Court grows and develops into a Scottish national literary monument as more writers are commemorated.

Makars’ Court was officially inaugurated by the late lain Crichton Smith in August 1998. The Saltire Society selected 12 writers, ranging in date from John Barbour, who lived in the 14th century, to Sorley MacLean, who died in 1996. Each writer was commemorated by a quotation selected from his or her work which was inscribed in stone and set in the paving which leads from the Mound and the Lawnmarket approaches to the door of the Writers’ Museum. Between October 2000 and November 2013, 25 other inscribed stones were added.

For more information on Makars’ Court visit the Edinburgh Museums website: http://www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/Venues/The-Writers--Museum/Makars--Court

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