Irvine Welsh’s debut novel, Trainspotting, was released in 1993 and depicts an Edinburgh far-removed from the quaint, historic, picture postcard image familiar around the world, with stories of drug-addiction, sex, violence and poverty. Written with phonetic vernacular dialogue and located around the then gritty port of Leith and the estates of Muirhouse, the book drew on critical acclaim and word of mouth to become both hugely successful and highly influential.
It was adapted for the screen in 1996 by John Hodge and the film, directed by Danny Boyle, was a critical and commercial success, and a career breakthrough moment for many of those involved, including a young Ewan McGregor, who played the lead role of Mark Renton.
In 2007, Ewan kindly donated the signed script and poster on display in the National Museum of Scotland ahead of the opening of our gallery Scotland: A Changing Nation the following year. In the frontispiece, he wrote “Choose Life”, the mantra from one of the key monologues in the film.
The Scotland: A Changing Nation gallery reflects 20th and early 21st century Scotland, through war, social, political, industrial and cultural change. The Trainspotting script is displayed among a varied range of cultural artefacts including a programme for a Stanley Baxter show, props from The Steamie, a stage costume that Lulu wore whilst touring with Take That in 2006, a PVC jacket worn by Eugene Reynolds of the Rezillos, the 2004 Mercury Music Prize awarded to Franz Ferdinand and Ian Rankin’s original typed notes for The Falls, the novel which was inspired by the Arthur’s Seat Coffins.
The cast of Trainspotting, meanwhile, reassembled to make the 2017 sequel, T2: Trainspotting, catching up with the characters 20 years after the events of the original.