Five Paintings in Edinburgh That Might Make Ian Rankin Pull Off a Heist

Alexander Moffat’s Poets’ Pub at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Moffat imagines a night in one of Edinburgh’s many pubs, focusing on the real-life authors who made such places their temporary homes.  This painting stands as a memorial to several famous Scottish writers of the twentieth century, some of whom I was fortunate enough to meet during my early years as a writer.  Norman MacCaig once spent an evening talking to me about poetry, all for the price of a glass or two of whisky.  Iain Crichton Smith was the winner of a short story competition, where I was runner-up (my first taste of success as a writer).  Edwin Morgan’s concrete poetry dazzled me in my schooldays, and his writings have continued to dazzle me since.  There are other writers here whose works I know well—Hugh MacDiarmid, Alan Bold, Sorley MacLean, George Mackay Brown.  I smile whenever I stand in front of this painting.  It reminds me of Scotland’s literary greats, and of the pubs that welcomed them from time to time.  If it ever goes missing, the authorities will know where to look.—Ian Rankin

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