Scottish Firsts

Elspeth Wills

What would the world be like without the phone, the fax or television? How would it have developed without effective steam power or the oil industry? Could you survive without penicillin or antiseptic surgery?

From Napier's bones to Dolly the sheep, Scottish Firsts celebrates the remarkable achievements of a small country whose influence has helped to shape the modern world. It tells the engrossing stories of Scotland's heroes, famous and unsung, from William Murdoch, inventor of gas lighting, who went to his first job interview wearing a wooden top hat, to Ian Donald, whose prototype of the pregnancy scanner included a contraceptive sheath.

Scottish Firsts also explores some of the lesser-known achievements of Scots both at home and abroad, from the Buick car to the Thomson steamer; the first branded fruit cordial to the Cona coffee percolator. It highlights everything from sporting firsts to some of the world's most extreme environments where Scots have left their mark.

This absorbing compendium of facts is an essential reference companion as well as an intriguing read for proud Scots everywhere.


A graduate of St Andrews University in modern history, Elspeth Wills spent her career in research and information, running her own business for 12 years before becoming a freelance exhibition developer, scriptwriter and author. She has always been fascinated by the inventiveness of her fellow Scots, both famous and obscure.