Rebus30 at the Writers’ Museum until 21 January 2018


Ian Rankin. Credit: Rebusfest

Ian Rankin. Credit: Rebusfest

Joining the ranks of Sir Walter Scott, Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson; author Ian Rankin is celebrated in a new exhibition at Edinburgh’s Writers’ Museum.

A rare selection of personal items, manuscripts and images belonging to the best-selling writer are displayed in a new exhibition celebrating the 30th anniversary of his much-loved super sleuth, Detective Inspector Rebus.

Co-curated between the author and the Museum, Rebus30 explores the relationship between Rankin and his character, and both men’s connections with Edinburgh’s places, people and history.

Doors open to the free exhibition today (Friday 30 June) for RebusFest – a weekend of literature, music, art and film in Rebus’s hometown of Edinburgh.

In the Rebus30 exhibition, Ian Rankin writes: “I don’t think the Rebus novels could be set anywhere else – they really are about Edinburgh.

“I still haven’t got to the bottom of what makes Edinburgh tick or what makes it a unique setting. It just seems to be a place that has influenced writers, and continues to nurture writers.”

Edinburgh’s Culture and Communities Convener, Councillor Donald Wilson, said: “Celebrating 30 years of Edinburgh’s favourite super sleuth, RebusFest delves into the murky underworld of Inspector Rebus and the imaginative mind of his maker.

“Over three decades, Rebus has evolved into one of the nation’s most familiar fictional figures; as ingrained in popular culture as Miss Jean Brodie or Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

“This free exhibition at our Writers’ Museum explores how such characters and their creators have inspired Ian Rankin and his relationship with Rebus. I am delighted we are hosting it here in the world’s first UNESCO City of Literature and in the heart of the city Rankin and his detective call home.”

Gillian Findlay, Curatorial and Engagement Manager of the City of Edinburgh Council’s Museums, added: “It has been incredible to scratch below the surface of the Rebus stories for this very personal display at the Writers’ Museum.

“Celebrating the connections between Rankin’s characters and the city, Rebus30 features manuscripts and personal items interpreted by the author in his own words as he reflects on three decades of writing.

“We are very thankful to Ian Rankin for opening up his heart and creative mind for RebusFest and for allowing us to produce this fascinating display.”

Rebus30 at the Writers’ Museum is open 30 June 2017 until 21 January 2018.

RebusFest is produced in association with Edinburgh International Book Festival, and supported by Waterstones, National Museums of Scotland, City of Literature Trust, Edinburgh International Film Festival, Highland Park, Queen’s Hall, Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh The Caledonian, and the City of Edinburgh Council through the Writers’ Museum, City Art Centre and Assembly Rooms. Find the programme at


On display at Rebus30

  • A collection of handwritten notes exploring structure, language and character development for the first Rebus novel, Knots and Crosses
  • The original manuscript of Knots and Crosses with pages of revision notes
  • A letter from Rankin’s agent stating that five publishes had turned down Knots and Crosses, but perhaps they would be luckier with the next one
  • First UK, US, and foreign language (Danish) editions of Knots and Crosses
  • A letter from Rankin’s editor to say his books would be made into a TV series
  • D/I John Rebus police badge and warrant card, a prop from the Rebus TV as worn by Ken Stott
  • As Edinburgh Police badge, which sits on Rankin’s desk when he is writing
  • Toronto and Seattle Police badges – mementoes from overseas Detectives
  • A Happy Father’s Day sketch by the author’s son, featuring a sign for the Oxford Bar

About the Writers’ Museum

Find the Writers’ Museum at Lady Stair’s Close, Edinburgh, EH1 2PA.

Open Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 10am – 5pm.
Open Sunday: 12pm – 5pm.

The Writers’ Museum occupies the historic A-Listed Lady Stair’s House, built in 1622 by Sir William Gray of Pittendrum, an Edinburgh merchant burgess.

Celebrating Edinburgh’s continued status as a home of great writing, the Museum celebrates three giants of Scottish literature in a permanent display of work and belongings of Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott.

A temporary exhibition and events space shines a light on contemporary writing in the museum. This is where Rebus30 can be seen.

The Writers’ Museum is operated by the City of Edinburgh Council, which also cares for the Museum of Childhood, Museum of Edinburgh, Peoples’ Story Museum, Queensferry Museum, Lauriston Castle, City Art Centre, Scott Monument and Nelson Monument.


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