Alumni Services

October 2018

Ghosts, letters, history and science make up October's collection of alumni-authored reads.


Author JF Derry
Degree PhD Cell, Animal and Population Biology

The Darwin Papers

An eclectic collection of scientific papers and popular science articles on Darwin and Darwinian evolution. Topics range from Darwin’s time spent in Edinburgh to the place of music in his life and works, his struggle with the impact of his ideas and the way that they have been subsequently used. What role has water location played in African evolution? Which well-known zoologist anonymously wrote a scathing review of The Origin of Species? What do contemporary academics think of Darwin’s legacy? What role will Darwinism play in our future? Here are the answers to these and many more questions about Darwin and Darwinian evolution.

The Darwin Papers



David McClay

Degree Scottish Historical Studies

Dear Mr Murray

To celebrate the 250th anniversary, a sparkling anthology of letters from John Murray authors to their publisher.
The publishing house of John Murray was founded in Fleet Street in 1768 and remained a family firm over seven generations. Published to coincide with this remarkable achievement' and in the anniversary year, Dear Mr Murray is a collection of some of the best letters from the hundreds of thousands held in the John Murray Archive. They reveal not only the story of some of the most interesting and influential books in history, but also the remarkable friendships - as well as occasional animosities - between author and publisher, as well as readers, editors, printers and illustrators.
Despite the incredible number of letters that were retained by the Murray family, some failed to arrive, others were delayed and some barely survived, but longevity added to the reputation and fame of John Murray and a correspondent in Canada who addressed his letter merely to 'John Murray, The World-wide famous Book & Publishing House, London, England' as early as 1932 could be confident that his letter would arrive.
Intended to entertain and inspire, and spanning more than two hundred years, Dear Mr Murray is full of literary history and curiosities: from Charles Darwin's response to the negative reviews of On the Origin of Species to Adrian Conan Doyle challenging Harold Nicolson to a duel for insulting his father in the press; from David Livingstone's displeasure at the proposed drawing of a lion to represent his near-death encounter in Missionary Travels to William Makepeace Thackeray apologising for his drunken behaviour; from Byron berating John Murray for being fooled by his girlfriend's forgery of his signature to the poet James Hogg so desperate for money that he claims he won't be able to afford a Christmas goose; and from Jane Austen expressing concern about printing delays to Patrick Leigh Fermor beseeching Jock Murray not to visit him until he'd completed A Time of Gifts. Complemented by illustrations and reproductions of letters and envelopes, this is the perfect gift for book lovers everywhere.

Dear Mr Murray

David is also giving a free talk about the book and John Murray's Edinburgh connections in St Cecilia's Hall on Tuesday 13 November at 5.30pm - and alumni are invited to attend:

Book your free place


Author Martha McGill
Degree French and European History; Renaissance to Enlightenment; PhD History

Ghosts in Enlightenment Scotland

Scotland is famed for being a haunted nation, "whare ghaists and houlets nightly cry". Medieval Scots told stories of restless souls and walking corpses, but after the 1560 Reformation, witches and demons became the focal point for explorations of the supernatural. Ghosts re-emerged in scholarly discussion in the late seventeenth century, often in the guise of religious propagandists. As time went on, physicians increasingly reframed ghosts as the conjurations of disturbed minds, but gothic and romantic literature revelled in the emotive power of the returning dead; they were placed against a backdrop of ancient monasteries, castles and mouldering ruins, and authors such as Robert Burns, James Hogg and Walter Scott drew on the macabre to colour their depictions of Scottish life. Meanwhile, folk culture used apparitions to talk about morality and mortality. Focusing on the period from 1685 to 1830, this book provides the first academic study of the history of Scottish ghosts. Drawing on a wide range of sources, and examining beliefs across the social spectrum, it shows how ghost stories achieved a new prominence in a period that is more usually associated with the rise of rationalism. In exploring perceptions of ghosts, it also reflects on understandings of death and the afterlife; the construction of national identity; and the impact of the Enlightenment.

Ghosts in Enlightenment Scotland


Author Ken Peach
Degree BSc, PhD Physics

Managing Science: Developing your Research, Leadership and Management Skills

Managing science, meaning scientific research and, implicitly, managing scientists, has much in common with managing any enterprise, and most of these issues (annual budget planning, reporting, etc.) form the background. Equally, much scientific research is carried in universities ancient and modern, which have their own mores, ranging from professorial autocracy to democratic plurality, or in laboratories which have their own structures and traditions. But science has some issues that require a somewhat different approach if it is to prosper and succeed. We have come a long way from the seventeenth century and the foundation of the Royal Society, when science was largely pursued by gentlemen and occasionally ladies to give them pleasure and satisfy their curiosity. Society now expects science, whether publicly or privately funded, to ‘deliver’ benefits to society, or at least perhaps to shareholders. Yet the definition of science presumes no such benefit—the OED defines science as ‘the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behaviour of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment’. Managing the expectations
of the scientist, whose self-image appeals to this lofty definition for motivation and guidance, with those of society, which expects a return on its investment, is
the challenge of the manager of science.

Managing Science: Developing your Research, Leadership and Management Skills


Author James Taylor
Degree Medicine, PhD

The Cervical Spine: An atlas of normal anatomy and the morbid anatomy of ageing and injuries

The Cervical Spine: An atlas of normal anatomy and the morbid anatomy of ageing and injuries is a unique collection of more than 150 anatomical images documenting the development, maturation and ageing of the cervical spine and pathologies associated with ageing and injury. Representing the extensive research conducted by Professor James Taylor into the cervical spine gathered from his study of 266 autopsies over almost a decade, this text is a guide to support the clinical diagnosis of cervical spine trauma and pain.

The Cervical Spine

Your book

If you are a member of the alumni community and have recently published a book, we would be delighted to include it in the Alumni Bookshelf. Email the information, along with your degree details, to Brian Campbell:

Email Brian Campbell

Please note

Books are added to the bookshelf in order of submission. All of the further information links listed are the external websites of the book publisher, the author, or the bookseller. The University of Edinburgh is not responsible for the content and functionality of these sites.