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300Th Birthday Leading Light Philosophy Celebrated His Native City

Friday, 06 May 2011

Born on 7 May 1711, he was one of the most prominent figures in the Scottish Enlightenment and one of the first British men of letters to win fame and fortune through his pen, both as an essayist and historian.

Now Scotland's largest library is giving the public a chance to view an original copy of Hume's famous 'A Treatise of Human Nature' (volume 1) which dates back to 1739, and is considered by many scholars to be his most important work.

Dr Iain Gordon Brown, Principal Curator of Manuscripts at the National Library of Scotland, said: "Our display is a great tribute to Hume who is arguably the most important philosopher ever to write in English.  Hume's 'A Treatise of Human Nature' is a fascinating insight into 'the science of man' but was not an immediate success in Britain, and inevitably attracted criticism from his contemporaries.

"To illustrate this we have also put on display a letter, written by Hume to Glasgow professor Francis Hutcheson in 1739, in which he responds to such criticism.  If you are interested in Hume or want to learn more, come to Edinburgh and see this inspiring collection first-hand."

Hume was an international celebrity who enjoyed a varied career - he was a law student, apprentice merchant, military secretary, diplomat and civil servant. Although popular in literary circles he also attracted controversy due to his perceived atheism.

NLS is a major centre of Hume scholarship, with world-renowned collections of his correspondence, papers and books. Most distinguished of all is the Hume Collection bequeathed to the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1838 by the philosopher's nephew, and now on long-term loan to the National Library of Scotland. In the 1750s Hume was Keeper of the Advocates' Library, predecessor of the present National Library of Scotland.

Other highlights in the treasures display include letters between Hume and his contemporaries, including Adam Smith, and minutes of meetings from his time with the Advocates' Library.


The display will be open to the public from today (May 5) to June 28. For further information log on to http://www.nls.uk/exhibitions/treasures#hume





Notes to editors

David Hume Treasures Display

Faculty Minutes for 28 January and 6 February 1752
The life of David Hume. London, 1777
Select Society Minute Book
‘Order of Curators of Advocates Library for removing of certain books 27 June 1754’
Letter from Hume to Adam Smith, 17 December 1754
An enquiry concerning the principles of morals. London, 1751
H. Noris, Cenotaphia Pisana Caii et Lucii Caesarum dissertationibus illustrata. Venice, 1681, disposed of by Hume as shown in note:‘This Book was given in Exchange David Hume’
The history of Great Britain. Vol. I. Containing the reigns of James I. and Charles I. Edinburgh, 1754
Letter from Hume to William Robertson, 8 February 1759
Letter from Hume to John Clephane, 28 October 1753
Letter from Hume to Strahan, 3 May 1755
Hume to Edmonstoune, 29 September 1757
§ The history of England, from the invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688. Vol. I. New edition. London, 1782

A treatise of human nature. Vol.1. London, 1739
Letter from Hume to Francis Hutcheson, 17 September 1739
Essays moral and political. Edinburgh, 1741
Letter from Hume to William Mure of Caldwell, 4 August 1744
A letter from a gentleman to his friend in Edinburgh. Edinburgh, 1745
Four dissertations. London, 1757
Letter from Hume to John Clephane, 5 January 1753
Letter from Hume to William, second Earl of Shelburne, 12 December 1761
Letter from Hume to Adam Smith, 5 [probably November] 1765
Letter from Hume to William Robertson, 1 December 1763. MS. 3942, ff. 54-55v
Manuscript of ‘My Own Life’
The life of David Hume. London, 1777.
Codicil to Hume’s Will
§ James Edmonstoune to Hume, [August 1776]

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