New Forever Edinburgh competition launched to win afternoon tea with Alexander McCall Smith at the Signet Library

Alexander McCall Smith, The Signet Library, Edinburgh. (Photo: Forever Edinburgh)

IN celebration of Alexander McCall Smith’s new Edinburgh-based novel and the Scottish capital’s celebrated links with literature, a competition has been launched offering a money-can’t-buy literary-themed trip to the capital including afternoon tea with the world-renowned author.

The author recently released The Enigma of Garlic, the 16th and latest instalment of his globally bestselling 44 Scotland Street series, which follows the fictional story of life in a real street in his beloved hometown Edinburgh.

As Scotland’s Year of Stories draws to a close, the literary-themed competition ( has been launched by the city’s official destination brandForever Edinburgh as part of its The Story Never Ends campaign, which shines a light onEdinburgh’s culture, events and history, including its remarkable literary heritage.

The winner of the competition will enjoy a trip to Edinburgh, which became the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature in 2004, with the icing on the cake being afternoon tea with Alexander McCall Smith in The Signet Library, one of Edinburgh’s finest Georgian buildings.

The prize package for the winner and a plus one includes return travel to Edinburgh, a city with links to an array of acclaimed authors past and present including Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott, Dame Muriel Spark, Arthur Conan Doyle, JK Rowling, Sir Ian Rankin OBE and Irvine Welsh.

Also included in the prize package is two nights’ accommodation at the 5-star Balmoral Hotel, where JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

The winner will also enjoy meals at The Printing Press, which occupies the former George Street home of Scotland’s answer to Jane Austen, 19th century novelist Susan Ferrier, where frequent guests included Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns; Badger & Co, located within the childhood home of Kenneth Grahame, author of children’s classic, The Wind in the Willows; and Superico Restaurant, with cocktails at Superico Bar and Lounge, which are just a short stroll from 17 Heriot Row, the childhood home of Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson from 1857.

Additional prize elements are visits to the Writers’ Museum and the iconic Scott Monument – the largest monument to a writer in the world – and tickets for the award-winning Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour.

To enter the competition, visit – the deadline to enter is 23:59 on Friday 16 December 2022.

Alexander McCall Smith CBE said: “Edinburgh is an altogether enchanting city and it’s no wonder that it has captivated and inspired many writers and poets. This is a marvellous competition to celebrate the city’s literary heritage and I very much look forward to meeting the winner over afternoon tea in the Signet Library.”

City of Edinburgh Council Leader Cammy Day added: “This is a brilliant opportunity to win a fabulous trip to Scotland’s capital – the world’s very first UNESCO City of Literature. From the iconic Scott Monument greeting rail passengers at Waverley Station to the countless monuments to writers and thinkers, Edinburgh has such a rich literary heritage, with so much to discover and enjoy.

“Forever Edinburgh continues to deliver excellent value to Edinburgh’s visitor economy through its popular Story Never Ends campaign. I’m sure this latest element of their promotional activity will be greatly welcomed by businesses of all shapes and sizes.”

Edinburgh has long been a haven for literature lovers. From August’s annual Edinburgh International Book Festival, which welcomes approximately 800 authors from nearly 40 countries and brings in over 225,000 visitors annually, to smaller neighbourhood events such as the Portobello Book Festival, and its network of more than 50 bookshops, it is a must-visit for literary tourists. 

A multitude of fascinating literary experiences abound across the city including literary-themed places to stay, such as Stevenson House, the former home of Robert Louis Stevenson; and the National Museum of Scotland which houses a treasure trove of world-class exhibits including the Scotsman Printing Press, a working scale model of the printing press used for two centuries to produce The Scotsman newspaper, as well as the Ewan McGregor’s signed script for the 1996 movie of Irvine Welsh novel Trainspotting.

Edinburgh is also home to the National Library of Scotland, the leading centre for the study of Scotland and the Scots, the Scottish Poetry Library and the Scottish Storytelling Centre, plus institutions fostering literacy, including the Scottish Book Trust, a national agency for readership development and the Writers’ Museum and Makars’ Court, which commemorates Scottish writers and poets.

To find out more about Edinburgh’s literary tourism experiences, visit:

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