Claymation characters Wallace and Gromit have a new gig: encouraging Scots to read. The plasticine pair grace the covers of thousands of copies of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, which are available for free in libraries and schools throughout Edinburgh. It’s part of the city’s annual campaign to foster literacy, community engagement, and local pride. And, with this year’s pick, the city hopes to spark conversations about not only literature, but science as well.In 2007, the UN named Edinburgh, Scotland its first “City of Literature,” acknowledging Edinburgh’s place as one of the literary capitals of the world. Each year since then, Edinburgh has held “One Book One Edinburgh” (this year joined by the cities of Glasgow and Bristol) a citywide reading campaign in which residents are encouraged to read a particular book from Edinburgh’s history. The Literature Trust selected The Lost World as its 2009 book in part because Arthur Conan Doyle was born in Edinburgh, where he also began his literary career. But the choice of book is also to celebrate the life of Charles Darwin, born 200 years ago next year. Like Doyle, Darwin studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, where he joined the Plinian Society and developed his interest in natural history. To get readers thinking on the way evolutionary science connects to Doyle’s tale of prehistoric creatures that managed to escape extinction, the campaign has paired it with a comic book biography of Darwin’s life. This isn’t the first science fiction tale to star in Edinburgh’s literary campaign. Last year, they highlighted Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The Lost World Read 2009 runs through February 2009, when the project will hold companion activities and events. [The Lost World 2009 via The Early Days of a Better Nation]
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