Category Archives: Library

Sydney Goodsir Smith Stands for Rector

In 1951, students voting for a new Rector of Edinburgh University faced a choice between a quite extraordinary range of candidates. The election of actor Alistair Sym in 1948 had put an end to a long tradition of electing career politicians or military men. This time, in the wake of Sym’s success, nominees included Nobel-prize winning scientist Sir Alexander Fleming, novelist Evelyn Waugh, music hall entertainer Jimmy Logan, and politician and spiritual leader, Sir Sultan Muhammed Shah, Aga Khan III.

Also on the ballot was Lallans poet Sydney Goodsir Smith, who had come to prominence three years earlier through his collection Under the Eildon Tree, one of the major works of the Scottish Literary Renaissance. Edinburgh University Archives have recently purchased a copy of Smith’s campaign leaflet, adding to our major collection of Smith papers (Coll-497).

Smith was born in New Zealand but moved to Scotland in 1928 when his father Sir Sydney Alfred Smith (1883-1969) was appointed Professor of Forensic Medicine at Edinburgh University. Smith himself began a medical degree at Edinburgh University but soon abandoned it to study Modern History at Oxford. The ‘Message from the Candidate’ in the campaign leaflet alludes to his brief Edinburgh career:

During my short and somewhat hectic time as a medical student here, I must have been inoculated with the bug of not exactly ‘study’ so much as just ‘being a student’, for I seem to have remained a student, of one thing or another, ever since.

Smith thus presents himself as ‘a real student’s rector’, who, unlike his ageing and out-of-touch rivals, will provide an ‘effective student voice’ on the University Court. There is a second strand to his campaign, however, which voters may have struggled to reconcile with his stance as a spokesman for student interests.

The ‘Message from the Candidate’ also states that Smith’s nomination is:

single evidence of the increased regard held for Scottish literature – too long the Cinderella of Scottish life and thought – by the student body of what used to be Scotland’s capital in fact as well as name

The leaflet, in fact, foregrounds Smith’s literary credentials. The cover photo portrays Smith in his study, resplendent in a smoking gown, and surrounded by tottering piles of books. Beneath the caption ‘Sydney Goodsir Smith: Poet, Scholar, Artist, Wit’ are endorsements from major literary figures of the day, Edith Sitwell, Neil M. Gunn, Duncan Macrae, Sorley Maclean, and Hugh MacDiarmid.

Conspicuously, the least political endorsements are placed first. Sitwell claims that ‘it would honour poetry should [Smith] be elected’, Gunn declares that ‘to vote for a Scots poet of so rare a vintage as Sydney Goodsir Smith I should find irresistible’. For actor Duncan Macrae, Smith is alone among the candidates in possessing ‘the distinction of genius’. Maclean too credits Smith with ‘creative genius’ along with an ‘irresistible personality’ and a place among ‘the very finest critical intelligences’.

Only the final endorsement from Hugh MacDiarmid, himself a rectorial candidate in 1935 and 1935, gives a hint of Smith’s political position. Presenting Smith as ‘an outstanding figure in the Scottish Renaissance Movement’, MacDiarmid describes him as:

A scholar, a lover of all the arts, a great wit, a well-informed Scot with all his country’s best interests at heart and above all a passionate concern for freedom and hatred of every sort of cant or humbug, he typifies all that is best in the Scottish National Awakening now in progress and is contributing magnificently thereto.

The rest of the leaflet does not so much explain how a commitment to the Scottish Literary Renaissance will shape Smith’s rectorial work, as set the two strands of his campaign side-by-side, leaving the voter to trace a connection. For example, it gives the following ‘Four Reasons for Supporting Sydney Goodsir Smith’:

  1. His distinction is that of real creative genius.
  2. He would be sure to give a worthwhile and amusing address.
  3. He is a Scotsman who believes in his own country.
  4. He would be a real students’ rector.

In places, the leaflet is a little self-contradictory. Students are asked to vote for Smith because ‘a Scottish university should first of all honour the great men of its own country’. They should not vote for Fleming, however, because he may be ‘a great scientist and benefactor of mankind’ but the ‘rectorship is an office of spokesman for the student body, not an honour per se‘.

Perhaps, in fact, the strongest claim that emerges from the leaflet is the likelihood of Smith delivering a colourful rectorial address. His credentials as ‘wit and humorist’ are illustrated in a series of put-downs of rival candidates. Particularly acerbic barbs are directed at Jimmy Logan (‘information scanty but supposed to be a comedian’), politician Sir Andrew Murray (‘nicely groomed ex-provost … non-allergic to limelight’), Evelyn Waugh (‘hobby – writing blue books for naughty, naught Catholics’), and the Aga Khan (‘but who can’t?’).

Since acquiring the leaflet, we have discovered that another recent purchase, the archives of the Edinburgh student literary magazine The Jabberwock (Coll-1611), contains a draft version of Smith’s ‘Message from the Candidate’, together with the original manuscripts of the endorsements by Hugh MacDiarmid and Edith Sitwell. The Jabberwock’s editor Ian Holroyd evidently worked as Smith’s campaign manager, and the archive also contains a letter from veteran Scottish writer Compton Mackenzie, regretting that he cannot endorse Smith’s candidature, as he has been approached by two other candidates with equal claims on his support.

The draft of Smith’s ‘Message from the Candidate’ contains a substantial amount of text omitted from the published version. One deleted paragraph reads:

If this were a political election (which I am told it is not to be, this time), I think my sentiments would be well-known to some of you as those of a man who wished to restore the ancient dignity of Scotland – all-out, in fact, and only falling somewhat short of bombs in letter-boxes and Customs at the Border. However, as this is not to be political, and as we are unfortunately unlikely as yet to get the chance of reducing the tax on whisky, I come to you with no ‘policy’ at all. I have none, in the circumstances, for I believe it would not be proper (in the happy event of my election) or my place to represent any other body than the students of this University and to be their spokesman on the University Court.

Was it the hints of political extremism, the allusion to Smith’s drinking habits, or the cheery admission of having no policy, that most alarmed Smith’s campaign manager? Also deleted is the postscript ‘I am truly sorry Groucho refused – he’d have unstuffed a few more shirts’. Groucho Marx had, in fact, been asked to stand as a rectorial candidate, but sadly declined.

In the end, Sir Alexander Fleming, who enjoyed the near unanimous support of medical students, won a resounding victory. Smith’s backers may over-estimated the average Edinburgh student’s interest in literature. Canvassers for Evelyn Waugh commonly met with the response: ‘Who’s she?’

For more on the 1951 Rectorial campaign, see Donald Wintergill, The Rectors of the University of Edinburgh 1859-2000 (Edinburgh: Dunedin Academic Press, 2005), pp. 127-35. Although Smith was never to stand again, his father Sir Sydney Smith won the next Rectorial election in 1954.

Paul Barnaby, Acquisition and Scottish Literary Collections Curator

A Life Cut Short: Stephanie’s Story

Stephanie (courtesy of Lauren McGregor)

In 1936, Julia Stephanie Evadne McGregor was in the final year of a five-year medical degree and showed all the signs of a highly motivated and conscientious student who would do well.  In January 1936, she was admitted to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, again in May and then June.  She died on 4th July of rheumatic fever.  On the anniversary of her death this year, the University is awarding a posthumous degree, with her family in attendance.

Stephanie (as she was known) was born in Gayle St. Mary, Jamaica on 9th April 1911, the daughter of Peter James McGregor and his wife Julianna Drucilla Marsh. She attended Wolmer’s Girls High School in Kingston, Jamaica from 1923-1929 and matriculated at the University of Edinburgh to study medicine in April 1931, having obtained her matriculation certificate at the University of London the previous August. On 21 October 1931 she registered as a student member of the General Medical Council.

Her first year of study saw her study under (amongst others) Professors James Hartley Asworth (Zoology), George Barger (Chemistry) and William Wright Smith (Botany), passing her first professional exams in 1932. In her second year her Professors were Edward Sharpey-Schafer (Physiology) and James Couper Brash (Anatomy). She passed her second professional exams  in 1933.

Holiday at Kirn, Argyll, 1932

On holiday at Kirn, Argyll, 1932 (courtesy of Lauren McGregor)julia2back

In October 1933, Marjorie Rackstraw in her capacity as Adviser of Women Students, wrote to Professor Sir Sidney Smith, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, informing him that Stephanie was in financial difficulties, having received no allowance since the previous August, due to her family being in financial difficulties themselves. As a result, she was able to gain an award of £25 from the Medical Bursaries Fund. By the following February, this plus money Stephanie had managed to raise elsewhere was once again exhausted and Miss Rackstraw wrote again to Prof. Smith to explore other options, specifically a loan

She described Stephanie as capable and sensible, “one of the best of her class and has gained merit certificates in four of her subjects and one prize in Botany”. The letter also recorded that Stephanie was planning to apply for a Vans Dunlop Scholarship and, “if the  banana harvest is satisfactory she should be able to meet her expenditure during the next two years”. A further grant of £50 from the Medical Bursaries Fund was awarded.

Further troubles arose in late 1934. On 29th October Miss Rackstraw wrote again to Prof. Smith, explaining that Stephanie’s father had died a few weeks earlier, presenting more financial problems over and above dealing with the bereavement.  She was to receive further small pots of money.

By 1935, Stephanie was living in Masson Hall of Residence, where Marjorie Rackstraw was warden.  The building no longer exists, having been demolished in the 1960s to make way for the Main Library building.  However there are extensive records, including photographs, and one that includes Stephanie survives.

Group photograph of residents and others at Masson Hall of Residence, 1935

Group photograph of residents and others at Masson Hall of Residence, 1935

1936 did not start well for Stephanie.  She fell ill on the 17th January and ended up in the Royal Infirmary but was let out after 15 days on the condition that she go away for convalescence.  She went to say with a Mrs Corrigall at “Stromness, Kirn, Argyll”, but the ordeal journey there resulted in a week in bed and further time away from study.  She wrote to Prof. Smith to explain her situation.

Mrs. Corrigall, with whom I am staying, called in her family Doctor and I have been under his care ….. I am still quite unfit to face classes and work ….. I am very troubled about my attendance and classes ….. This is the first time in the five years of my academic life, Sir, that I have for any reson or other been forced to miss my classes

Steph's signature

Signature, from letter in her student file

On 5 July 1936, Marjorie Rackstraw again wrote to Prof Smith but this time she was not looking for financial assistance.  Instead she had the task of informing him that Stephanie had died the day before, a victim of “rheumatic fever following tonsillitis which affected her heart”. Her funeral was held at St. John’s Episcopal, where she had been a member of the congregation, and she was buried at Piershill Cemetery.

Funeral notice (copy from her student file)

Funeral notice (copy from her student file)

Since the later 19th century, women students had been battling to gain parity with their male counterparts.  It was not until the 1890s that women were able to matriculate as students and it was only in 1915 that they gained an equal status to men within the Faculty of Medicine.  Even by the time Stephanie was studying, numbers of female students were very small compared to men, having only just edged over 10%.  Had Stephanie graduated, she would have made up one of only 19 women who were awarded a degree of MBChB that year.  Although she probably never saw herself as such, Stephanie can be seen as a contributor towards a major change within medical education, paving the way for those who followed.

At the graduation ceremony which takes place on 4th July 2015, coincidentally on the 79th anniversary of Stephanie’s death, the University of Edinburgh is awarding her a posthumous degree.

Edinburgh University Union Committee, 1899

Edinburgh University Union Committee 1899We recently acquired this photograph.  It shows the committee which had responsibility for running the University Union, one comprised of both staff and students. We have researched each of the names and found out something further about most of them.

At this time and for some time to come, the Union was an all male affair. The date also means that many of the students depicted would also see service during the First World War – where known, this is noted.

Leonard Crossley
Medical graduate: MBChB 1900, MD 1903.

Frederick Nelson Menzies
Medical graduate: MBChB 1899, MD 1903.

James Myles Hogge (1873-1928)
Arts graduate: MA 1898. Later Member of Parliament.

Andrew Binny Flett (1875-1961)
Medical graduate: MBChB 1902.

Robert Dundonald Melville (1872-1927)
Arts and Law graduate: MA 1894, LLB 1896.

David Barty King (1873-1956)
MA from University of St. Andrews. Medical graduate: MBChB 1899, MD 1902. Served as Major in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

Francis Mitchell Caird (1853-1926)
Later Professor of Clinical Medicine.

Dr Richard J A Berry
Lecturer in Anatomy. Medical graduate: MBChB 1891, MD 1894.

John Rankine (1846-1922)
Professor of Scots Law.

Hugh Nethersole Fletcher (1877-1962)
Medical graduate: MBChB 1903, MD 1909. Served as Captain in the Royal Army Medical Corps (Territorial).

Hugh Crichton Miller (1877-1959)
Psychotherapist and founder of the Tavistock Clinic. Arts and Medical graduate: MA 1899, MBChB 1900, MD 1902. Served as Lieutenant, then Major, Royal Army Medical Corps.

Harry Malcolm Mackenzie (c1872-1947)
Medical graduate: MBChB 1899. Served as Lieutenant, then Major, then Lieutenant Colonel, Indian Medical Service.

James Walker ( -1922)
Chartered Accountant. Honorary Treasurer to the University Union

Samuel Butcher (1850-1910)
Professor of Greek.

Dr Francis William Nicol Haultain (1861-1921)
Obstetrician and Gynaecologist. Medical graduate: MB CM 1882.

‘Connected Collections’, Library of Innerpeffray, 29 November 2014

WP_20141129_13_18_20_Pro

Last Saturday, I was at the wonderful Library of Innerpeffray, Scotland’s oldest lending library (founded ca. 1680) for ‘Connected Collections’, a workshop organised by Jennifer Barnes and Chris Murray of the University of Dundee. This was designed as a forum for academics, archivists, library and museum professionals, and students to discuss the promotion of creative collections at Scottish universities and work towards potential partnerships and research bids.

WP_20141129_13_58_29_Pro

After my opening talk on ‘Widening Access to Creative Collections at Edinburgh University’, Neil Curtis (Head of Museums, Aberdeen) gave an historical account of collecting and cataloguing policies over the 18th and 19th centuries noting how changing curatorial approaches repurposed and recombined Aberdeen University’s collections, sometimes creating hybrid objects. He stressed too the role of Scottish universities as combined national institutions, rather than regional entities serving only their immediate area.

Karl Magee (University Archivist, University of Stirling) introduced the archive of Stirling-born film-maker Norman McLaren and discussed, in particular, the relationship forged between the University Archives and the Stirling Smith Art Gallery and Museum, culminating in the exhibition ‘A Dream of Stirling: Norman McLaren’s Scottish Dawn’.

John Izod (Communications, Media and Culture, Stirling University) told the fascinating tale of Lindsay Anderson’s documentary of Wham!’s 1985 China tour, the first visit to that country by a western pop group. Anderson’s radically different first version, rejected by the group’s management, is in Stirling University’s Lindsay Anderson Archive.

Julie Gardham (Senior Assistant Librarian, Special Collections, University of Glasgow) presented a number of innovative ways of promoting arts and humanities collections, including using archives as inspirational materials for creative writing workshops, pitching under-used and uncatalogued collections at potential researchers at evening receptions, and running a student blogathon, with prizes for the best and most liked posts for items on Special Collections and Archives material.

Gerard Carruthers (Francis Hutcheson Chair of Scottish Literature, University of Glasgow) argued that there was a need for a concerted effort to catalogue and explore 18th– and 19th-century poetry archives in Glasgow and the West of Scotland. This was material that had been neglected due to the prevailing misconception that Scottish poetry had descended into sentimental tartanry after Burns. He wished to see a project ‘Scottish Political Poetry and Song, 1832-1918’ researching material in newspapers and periodicals to create an alternative print cultural history.

Caroline Brown (Deputy Archivist, University of Dundee), discussed her university’s promotion of embedded archival teaching, including the award of a prize for the best piece of work using archival materials. She placed particular stress on oral history projects involving Dundee’s jute mills, the publisher D. C. Thomson, and patients and staff at a hospital for people with a learning disability.

Chris Murray (Dundee) discussed the use of archives in Comics Studies courses at Dundee University. These were largely created through building up close relationships with individual comic artists and publishers, many of whom regularly visited Dundee to give talks to the students. Archival materials were also used to inspire students to create their own comics. Dr Murray noted the difficulty in using some recent materials for teaching and research, due to donators’ concerns that materials might be uploaded to the internet.

Finally Brian Hoyle (English and Film Studies, Dundee) introduced Dundee University’s recently acquired archive of the Scottish novelist and screenwriter Alan Sharp, and discussed his interest in building an archive of unfilmed cinema scripts (of which there were many first-rate examples in the Sharp Archive).

The day ended with a round-table discussion which gave student delegates a chance to express their own views on the efforts of libraries, archives, and museums to engage with them. A common theme was a desire for easier and more uniform access to collections in institutions other than the student’s own. Archivists also expressed concerns that universities were no longer training students in the skills required (Latin, palaeography) to decipher archival materials.

The day provided an excellent opportunity for forging contacts between academics, library and archive professionals, and students working with creative collections. It was also an invaluable platform for library and archives staff to exchange ideas on outreach and widening participation. It is to be hoped that future ‘Connected Collections’ workshops will be organized to build on the relationships established at Innerpeffray.

 Paul Barnaby, Archives Team, CRC

 

HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco ‘meets’ his great-great-grandfather, Prince Albert I

Rachel Hosker, Archivist, meets Prince Albert II of Monaco. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian, looks on.

Rachel Hosker, Archivist CRC, meets Prince Albert II of Monaco. Dr. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian Archives & Manuscripts CRC, looks on (16 October 2014).

Today, His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco visited the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI), and met the Director of ECCI and staff from the School of Geosciences at the University’s remodelled Old High School in High School Yards .

The evening before – Thursday 16 October 2014 – a number of items from the Centre for Research Collections (CRC) were displayed before the Prince when he attended a reception at Old College, Edinburgh University.

Dr. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian CRC, meets Prince Albert II of Monaco, Rachel Hosker, Archivist CRC, looks on.

Dr. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian Archives & Manuscripts CRC, meets Prince Albert II of Monaco, Rachel Hosker, Archivist CRC, and Professor David M. Munro look on (16 October 2014).

The Prince was given a private viewing of the display just before the Thursday evening reception and was accompanied by, among others, the University Principal, Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea, and Professor David M. Munro OBE, Ph.D of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and a member of the Technical and Scientific Committee of the Prince Albert Foundation.

A sketch by William Speirs Bruce of the survey trawling gear on board 'Princesse Alice', 1898. Gen. 1646.39.1-2

A sketch by William Speirs Bruce of the survey trawling gear on board ‘Princesse Alice’, 1898. Gen. 1646.39.1-2

For the display, items from the William Speirs Bruce collection curated by Special Collections were chosen to reflect the connection between the scientist and explorer William Speirs Bruce (1867-1921) and the Prince’s great-great-grandfather Prince Albert I of Monaco (1848-1922) who was a renowned oceanographer. Items from Edinburgh University Archives were shown too, and these described the award of an Honorary Doctor of Laws by the University to Prince Albert I in 1907.

Ms notes showing temperature and salinity observations made by Bruce from 'Princesse Alice', during July, August and September 1899, and between Tromsø, northern Norway, and the west coast of Spitsbergen. Gen. 1651.101.10

Ms notes showing temperature and salinity observations made by Bruce from ‘Princesse Alice’, during July, August and September 1899, and between Tromsø, northern Norway, and the west coast of Spitsbergen.
Gen. 1651.101.10

William Speirs Bruce led the famed Scottish National Antarctic Expedition, 1902-1904, on his vessel Scotia. Prior to his southern expedition he carried out research in the Arctic. He sailed the Barents Sea to Novaya Zemlya and Svalbard on the steam yacht Blencathra in May 1898, returning to Tromsø, northern Norway, in July. There he met Prince Albert I of Monaco (1848-1922) and was invited aboard the vessel Princesse Alice which had been constructed for oceanographic research.

In a log-book entry for 13 July 1906, Bruce writes about the improving weather with clouds dispersing so that ‘in the evening the sky was practically cloudless and all the peaks and glaciers clear. At midnight there was brilliant sunshine’. After lunch that day, a party of men went ashore at 3pm ‘when the Prince and the rest of us toasted them’. Gen. 1650.89.3.1-2

In a log-book entry for 13 July 1906, Bruce writes about the improving weather with clouds dispersing so that ‘in the evening the sky was practically cloudless and all the peaks and glaciers clear. At midnight there was brilliant sunshine’. After lunch that day, a party of men went ashore at 3pm ‘when the Prince and the rest of us toasted them’. Gen. 1650.89.3.1-2

Bruce then accompanied the Prince on a hydrographic survey to Spitsbergen, the main island in the Svalbard archipelago. The Prince’s oceanographic research vessel took them to Bear Island as well as Spitsbergen. At the end of the expedition he returned to Edinburgh briefly, before wintering in Monte Carlo and continuing with oceanographic work on the vessel. In 1899 a return expedition was made with the Prince to Spitsbergen, and during the summers of 1906 and 1907 Bruce again visited Spitsbergen. He had been invited by Prince Albert to take part in topographical mapping of Prins Karls Forland off the west coast of the island.

From the Minutes of the Senatus Academicus, 1905-1908, and recording the decision to award the Honorary LLD. EUA IN1/GOV/SEN/1

From the Minutes of the Senatus Academicus, 1905-1908, and recording the decision to award the Honorary LLD. EUA IN1/GOV/SEN/1

In January 1907, Prince Albert was to be addressing the Royal Scottish Geographical Society but prior to this, at the last meeting of Senatus for 1906, it was intimated that an honorary Doctorate of Laws (LLD) would be awarded to the Prince. This had been recommended to Senatus by the LLD Committee, triggered by information from Professor James Geikie (1893-1915). A Special Graduation Ceremony was planned for the same day as the visit to the Royal Scottish Geographical Society – 17 January 1907. It was around this time too that Bruce established the Scottish Oceanographical Laboratory.

The display set out for Prince Albert II of Monaco included items from the William Speirs Bruce Collection

The display set out for Prince Albert II of Monaco included items from the William Speirs Bruce Collection.

But… fast forward again to October 2014… and to Prince Albert II…

Dr. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian CRC, introduces the display to Prince Albert II of Monaco, Professor David M. Munro and the University Principal

Dr. Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian Archives & Manuscripts CRC, introduces the display to Prince Albert II of Monaco, and his party. Rachel Hosker, Archivist CRC, Professor David M. Munro and the University Principal, Professor Sir Timothy O’Shea look on (16 October 2014).

Born in 1958, HSH Prince Albert II is the reigning monarch of the Principality of Monaco, and the son of Prince Rainier III of Monaco (1923-2005) and Princess Grace of Monaco (1929-1982). He is the great-great-grandson of the oceanographer Prince Albert I and his first wife Lady Mary Victoria Douglas-Hamilton (1850-1922) daughter of the 11th Duke of Hamilton.

Items illustrating a performance by Princess Grace of Monaco at St Cecilia's Hall in 1976, loaned from the Edinburgh International Festival and from the Herald & Times Group

Items illustrating a performance by Princess Grace of Monaco at St Cecilia’s Hall in 1976, loaned from the Edinburgh International Festival and from the Herald & Times Group.

After a brief introduction to the display given by CRC staff, Professor Munro very eloquently described the collection items to Prince Albert II, as well as the connections between Bruce and Prince Albert I. The Prince was heard to indicate that he hadn’t ever seen the photograph of his great-great-grandfather taken by Herbert Mather Spoor, and which had illustrated the 1907 report in The Student.

'The Student' was a magazine produced by the Students’ Representative Council. It covered student life at the University alongside a broad range of topics thought to be of interest to the student body. The magazine format was later abandoned and 'The Student' today is a newspaper. On 25 Jan 1907 it reported that Prince Albert of Monaco had been awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws. The article included a photograph taken by medical student Herbert Mather Spoor (1872-1917), MB ChB, 1908. Spoor was later killed at Ypres in 1917. EUA.P.11

‘The Student’ was a magazine produced by the Students’ Representative Council. It covered student life at the University alongside a broad range of topics thought to be of interest to the student body. The magazine format was later abandoned and ‘The Student’ today is a newspaper. On 25 Jan 1907 it reported that Prince Albert of Monaco had been awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws. The article included a photograph taken by medical student Herbert Mather Spoor (1872-1917), MB ChB, 1908. Spoor was later killed at Ypres in 1917. EUA.P.11

The Prince also observed that when his mother had participated in the poetry recital An American Heritage performed at St. Cecilia’s Hall during the Edinburgh International Festival in 1976, he too had accompanied her on the visit to the city. Princess Grace together with actors Richard Kiley and Richard Pasco had recited poems illustrating American History in four separate performances in the 1976 Festival. Their performance was themed to coincide with the bicentennial of American independence from Great Britain in 1776.

CRC staff in attendance in the Carstares Room, Old College, during the evening agreed that the items selected for the display certainly hit the spot with the Prince and with Professor Munro, and deemed the evening a great success (thanks due, not least, to supporting Conservation and Exhibitions colleagues).

Display set before the Prince... Carstares Room, Old College

Display set before the Prince… Carstares Room and adjoining Raeburn Room, Old College.

Graeme D. Eddie, Assistant Librarian Archives and Manuscripts, Centre for Research Collections

 

William Soutar’s Caricatures of Hugh MacDiarmid

A few days ago I gave a talk to the Friends of William Soutar in Perth on the friendship between Soutar and his fellow Scots poet Hugh MacDiarmid, as illustrated by letters in Edinburgh University Library’s C. M. Grieve Archive (MS 2960.18).

Soutar, confined to bed with a debilitating disease for the last 13 years of his life, adorned some of his letters with affectionate pen-and-ink caricatures of MacDiarmid (whom Soutar always addressed by his real forename ‘Christopher’). On 9 January 1937, he pokes gentle fun at the workaholic MacDiarmid’s idea of ‘taking it easy’, portraying him as a Marxist superman surrounded by piles of manuscripts headed ‘Lyrics’, ‘Autobiog.’, ‘Epic’, and ‘Articles’. When war breaks out, he suggests (19 December 1940) that the drafts of MacDiarmid’s works in progress will make a more than adequate bomb shelter.

IMG_1353IMG_1357

Soutar was an Edinburgh University student, matriculating in 1919, after serving in the Royal Navy during the First World War (an experience that turned him into a pacifist). He began a medical degree, but soon switched to English Literature, where he proved a notoriously difficult student. He refused to study both Anglo-Saxon and novels in general as he considered both irrelevant to his future career as a poet. He did, however, publish early verses in The Student, many of which reappeared in his first published volume Gleanings by an Undergraduate (1923).

For information on our holdings of William Soutar manuscripts and correspondence, see Scottish Literary Papers.

Paul Barnaby, Centre for Research Collections

New Guide to Scottish Literary Papers

A new online guide to some of our major collections of Scottish literary papers is now available on the Centre for Research Collections website. It provides an overview of fourteen of our most significant twentieth-century collections, covering the literary manuscripts and correspondence of poets George Mackay Brown, Norman MacCaig, Hugh MacDiarmid, Edwin Muir, Sydney Goodsir Smith, Helen Cruickshank, Tom Scott, Andrew Young, Maurice Lindsay, and Duncan Glen, of short-story writer Fred Urquhart, and of historian and biographer Marion Lochhead. There are also pages on novelist John Buchan’s correspondence as literary adviser to Thomas Nelson & Sons Ltd (in our Nelson Archive).

IMG_08732014-04-30 10.49.08

The guide not only lists the most significant literary manuscripts for each writer, but highlights links between the collections, charting correspondence between the featured writers, and mutually inspired creative and critical writings. For each writer, there is also a list of manuscript materials of relevance in other Edinburgh University Library collections. There are further links to online hand-lists and to relevant entries in the Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue.

The literary papers cover a great variety of materials:

  • Manuscript and typescript drafts of literary works, such as Norman MacCaig‘s version of the Brecht/Weil song Mack the Knife (above right)
  • Correspondence, including George Mackay Brown‘s application for a summer job at Edinburgh University Library (below left)!
  • Photographs, such as W. R. Aitken‘s portrait of Hugh MacDiarmid and family on Whalsay, Shetland (above left)
  • Other visual materials, such as Sydney Goodsir Smith‘s sketches for staging one of his plays (below right)

IMG_0887IMG_0833

In due course, the pages will be expanded to cover smaller Scottish collections and pre-20th-century manuscripts, and to detail our holdings of writers (like Sorley Maclean or Edwin Morgan) for whom we have no discrete named collection. We hope that the guide will provide an invaluable gateway to our collections for anyone interested in researching 20th-century Scottish writing. To explore the site, go to:

http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/information-services/library-museum-gallery/crc/collections/special-collections/scottish-literature/overview

Paul Barnaby

The University benefits from Christmas

Robert Irvine (1839-1902) FRSE

Robert Irvine (1839-1902) FRSE. Endowed the Chair of Bacteriology.

A recent enquiry about a benefactor has thrown up an interesting set of connections within and beyond the University.

The son of Robert Irvine, manager of The Scotsman newspaper, Robert Irvine was born in Edinburgh in 1839.  By 1871 he was married to Margaret Sclater and living in a large house in Baltic Street, Leith, the manager of a chemical works.  By 1891 he was the owner of Caroline Park at Granton.  This included, the marine station, laboratories and warehouse as well as his own home.  He was now a Chemical Manufacturer. He was a friend of oceanographer, Sir John Murray (1841-1915), assistant on the Challenger Expedition and founder of the Marine Station at Granton, either on or adjacent to Irvine’s property (accounts differ).

Murray was also involved in establishing the Christmas Island Phosphate Company.  One of the investors was Irvine and it was part of the fortune realised by this lucrative venture that was bequeathed to the University of Edinburgh.  This established the Chair in Bacteriology and the first Professor was James Ritchie (1864-1923), MA, BSc, MD, FRCPE.

He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1886, his proposers including Sir John Murray, and David Mather Masson, Professor of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres (English Literature).  The winner of the Neill Prize 1892-5, he also served as Councillor 1899-1902.

Irvine died in 1902 at his home at Granton, predeceased by his wife.  They had no children.

Irvine appears in our collections not only as a benefactor to the University but also in the records of the Granton Marine Station, which suggest his was role in it was quite hands-on.  The station closed shortly after Irvine’s death by which time most of the work had already moved to the west coast (for further information, see http://www.sams.ac.uk/about-us/our-history).

Grant Buttars, Deputy University Archivist

New acquisition: Further papers of Alexander Craig Aitken

aitken1The mathematician, statistician, writer, composer and musician, Alexander Craig Aitken, was born in Dunedin, New Zealand on 1 April 1895. He was of Scottish descent. He attended Otago Boys’ High School from 1908 to 1912. On winning a university scholarship in 1912 he went on to study at the University of Otago in 1913, enrolling in Mathematics, French and Latin. Studies were cut short by the 1914-1918 War however and he enlisted in 1915 serving with the Otago Infantry. Aitken saw action in Gallipoli and Egypt, and he was wounded during the Battle of the Somme. After his hospitalisation, he returned to New Zealand in 1917.

On the completion of his studies in 1920, Aitken became a school-teacher at Otago Boys’ High School and the same year he married Winifred Betts the first lecturer in Botany at the University of Otago where he also did some tutoring. Then, encouraged by a professor of mathematics at the University, he gained a postgraduate scholarship which brought him to Edinburgh University in 1923. His thesis on statistics gained him the degree of D.Sc. in 1925 when he also joined the University staff as a lecturer in Statistics and Mathematical Economics. In 1937 he was promoted to Reader, and in 1946 was appointed to the Chair of Mathematics.

Aitken’s publications include: jointly with H. W. Turnbull, The theory of canonical matrices (1932); with D. E. Rutherford, a series of Mathematical Texts; wartime experiences in Gallipoli to the Somme: Recollections of a New Zealand infantryman (1963); and, posthumously To catch the spirit. The memoir of A.C. Aitken with a biographical introduction by P.C. Fenton (1995). He made many important contributions to the many fields of his subject, particularly in the theory of Matrix Algebra and its application to various branches of mathematics. In his time, Professor Aitken was one of the fastest mathematical calculators in the world.

While at school, Aitken had learned to play the violin, and later on in life he played both the violin and viola and composed pieces for performance by university groups.  He died in Edinburgh on 3 November 1967.

Shortly before Christmas we acquired a further tranche of Aitken’s papers.  These include a number of original mathematical manuscripts, correspondence, legal documents, offprints, publications and photographs.  Amongst these is a review by Aitken of Sara Turning’s “Alan Turing”.

aitken

At the moment we still have to look through the collection, box it up and create a basic handlist.  Once this is done it will be available for consultation.

Ivanhoe in Belgium

Holograph letter of Walter Scott to George Steuart Mackenzie 1824Last weekend I was in Leuven at the Annual Conference of the Belgian Association of Anglicists in Higher Education (BAAHE), where I’d been invited to give a paper on translations of Walter Scott in our Corson Collection. While there, I took the opportunity to display two images from another University Collections item which vividly illustrates the extent of ‘Scottomania’ in 1820s Belgium. These are from an album of hand-coloured lithographs by Marcellin Jobard (later Belgium’s first photographer) showing the Ivanhoe-inspired costumes for a fancy dress ball hosted by the Prince and Princess of Orange in Brussels on 5 February 1823.

Belgium was then part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, whose court resided in The Hague and Brussels in alternate years. A report in the Lady’s Monthly Museum (May 1823) noted that while the Queen’s balls were very ‘showy and stately’, those held by the Crown Prince and Princess were ‘recherché and graceful’. The 5 February ball was held in honour of the British community, to whom the young royals were ‘remarkably attentive’. Three weeks notice was given

during which period, you may be sure, the hammers of the armourers of old, on the eve of a battle, were never plied with more skill and industry than were our own fancies and our maids’ needles, to prepare for these promised fêtes

0030007dA party of thirty-two guests went as characters from Ivanhoe, dancing a quadrille which caused such a sensation that they were invited to repeat the performance at the next Queen’s Ball. Three months later, a report in The Repository of Arts, Literatures, Fashions, Manufactures, &c declared that the Ivanhoe costumes remained ‘the principal topic of conversation at Brussels’. They clearly made sufficient impression for the costumes to be immortalized by the country’s leading lithographic press. The images show the costumes for Ivanhoe himself, for the ‘Black Knight’ (aka Richard the Lionheart), and for their rivals Prince John and Maurice de Bracy. We also hold hand-coloured engravings for a similar Scott-inspired costume ball in Vienna in 1826.

Paul Barnaby