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Craig, James

1744-1795

James Craig was born in Edinburgh. As a young architect he won the competition organised by the town council in 1766 to design a New Town. The wide, open, ordered and clean spaces of George, Queen and Princes Streets were in stark contrast to the muddled, dirty, jumble of dwellings that had evolved within the confines of the old medieval burgh. The seven other entries to the competition included a design that had the streets in the shape of the Union Jack. James' will lists books one would expect to find in any self-respecting British architect's collection of the period. It also reveals an eclectic taste in reading, ranging from religious tracts to the rather risque writings of the Earl of Rochester. The person whose works most frequently occur is the poet James Thomson, who was the architect's uncle. James is buried in Greyfriars kirkyard.
Further reading: Cruft, Kitty, and Fraser, Andrew, James Craig: Ingenious Architect of the New Town, (Edinburgh, 1995)
Youngson, A.J., The Making of Classical Edinburgh, 1750-1840, (Edinburgh, 1966 and 1988)

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