Joanna Baillie, (born Sept. 11, 1762, Hamilton, Lanark, Scot.--died Feb. 23, 1851, Hampstead, London), poet and prolific dramatist whose plays, mainly in verse, were highly praised at a period when serious drama was in decline. Her Plays on the Passions, 3 vol. (1798-1812), brought her fame but have long been forgotten. She is remembered, rather, as the friend of her countryman Sir Walter Scott and for a handful of lyrics in Fugitive Verses (1790), her first published work, that catch the authentic note of Lowland Scots folk song...
George Macdonald, (born Dec. 10, 1824, Huntly, Aberdeen, Scot.--died Sept. 18, 1905, Ashtead, Surrey, Eng.), novelist of Scottish life, poet, and writer of Christian allegories of man's pilgrimage back to God, who is remembered chiefly, however, for his allegorical fairy stories, which have continued to delight children and their elders. He became a Congregational minister, then a free-lance preacher and lecturer. In 1855 he published a poetic tragedy, Within and Without, and after that he made literature his profession. Of his literature for adults, Phantastes: A Faerie Romance for..
Thomas Campbell, (born July 27, 1777, Glasgow, Scot.--died June 15, 1844, Boulogne, France), Scottish poet, remembered chiefly for his sentimental and martial lyrics; he was also one of the initiators of a plan to found what became the University of London.Campbell went to Mull, an island of the Inner Hebrides, as a tutor in 1795 and two years later settled in Edinburgh to study law. In 1799 he wrote The Pleasures of Hope, a traditional 18th-century survey in heroic couplets of human affairs. It went through four editions within a year.He also produced several stirring patriotic war songs--"Ye..
James Hogg, (baptized Dec. 9, 1770, Ettrick, Selkirkshire, Scot.--died Nov. 21, 1835, Altrive, Yarrow, Selkirkshire), Scottish poet, known as the "Ettrick Shepherd," who enjoyed a vogue during the ballad revival that accompanied the Romantic movement.Hogg spent most of his youth and early manhood as a shepherd and was almost entirely self-educated. His talent was discovered early by Sir Walter Scott, to whom he supplied material for Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border. Before publishing The Queen's Wake (1813), a book of poems concerning Mary Stuart, Hogg went in 1810 to Edinburgh,..
Kenneth Grahame, (born March 8, 1859, Edinburgh, Scotland--died July 6, 1932, Pangbourne, Berkshire, England), British author of The Wind in the Willows (1908), one of the classics of children's literature. Its animal characters--principally Mole, Rat, Badger, and Toad--combine captivating human traits with authentic animal habits. It is a story that adults have enjoyed as much as children.Orphaned at an early age, Grahame went to live with his grandmother in England and attended St. Edward's School, Oxford. Money was lacking for him to go to the university. Hence, his family guided him..
Hugh Miller, (born Oct. 10, 1802, Cromarty, Cromartyshire, Scot.--died Dec. 24, 1856, Edinburgh), Scottish geologist and lay theologian who was considered one of the finest geological writers of the 19th century and whose writings were widely successful in arousing public interest in geologic history.After early literary ventures and a six-year period as a bank accountant in Cromarty, Miller went to Edinburgh in 1840 as editor of the newly founded newspaper The Witness. The newspaper, which opposed patronage in the Church of Scotland, gained a wide reputation through Miller's leading..
William Robertson Smith, (born Nov. 8, 1846, Keig, Aberdeenshire, Scot.--died March 31, 1894, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, Eng.), Scottish Semitic scholar, encyclopaedist, and student of comparative religion and social anthropology.Smith was ordained a minister in 1870 on his appointment as professor of Oriental languages and Old Testament exegesis at the Free Church College of Aberdeen. When his articles on biblical subjects appeared in the 9th edition of Encyclopaedia Britannica (notably the article "Bible," published in 1875), the authorities of the Free Church took strong exception..
Samuel Smiles, (born Dec. 23, 1812, Haddington, Berwickshire, Scot.--died April 16, 1904, London), Scottish author best known for his didactic work Self-Help (1859), which, with its successors, Character (1871), Thrift (1875), and Duty (1880), enshrined the basic Victorian values associated with the "gospel of work."One of 11 children left fatherless in 1832, Smiles learned the meaning of self-reliance. Although he qualified in medicine at Edinburgh in 1832, he soon abandoned medical practice for journalism, moving to Leeds, where from 1838 to 1842 he edited the progressive and reformist..
William Drummond, (born Dec. 13, 1585, Hawthornden, near Edinburgh, Scot.--died Dec. 4, 1649, Hawthornden), first notable poet in Scotland to write deliberately in English. He also was the first to use the canzone, a medieval Italian or Provencal metrical form, in English verse.Drummond studied at Edinburgh and spent a few years in France, ostensibly studying law at Bourges and Paris. On the death of his father, first laird of Hawthornden, in 1610, he settled down on his Hawthornden estate, leaving law for literature and devoting himself to the life of a cultured and rather detached man of means...
Hugh MacDiarmid, pseudonym of Christopher Murray Grieve, (born Aug. 11, 1892, Langholm, Dumfriesshire, Scot.--died Sept. 9, 1978, Edinburgh), preeminent Scottish poet of the first half of the 20th century and leader of the Scottish literary renaissance.The son of a postman, MacDiarmid was educated at Langholm Academy and the University of Edinburgh. After serving in World War I he became a journalist in Montrose, Angus, where he edited three issues of the first postwar Scottish verse anthology, Northern Numbers (1921-23). In 1922 he founded the monthly Scottish Chapbook, in which he advocated..
James Beattie, (born November 5, 1735, Laurencekirk, Kincardine, Scotland--died August 18, 1803, Aberdeen), Scottish poet and essayist, whose once-popular poem The Minstrel was one of the earliest works of the Romantic movement.Beattie was a farmer's son. He graduated from Marischal College, Aberdeen, and became professor of moral philosophy there. At the age of 25, he published Original Poems and Translations (1760), which already showed a Romantic attitude toward nature. With his Essay on the Nature and Immutability of Truth, in Opposition to Sophistry and Scepticism (1770), a vigorous..
John Arbuthnot, (born April 1667, Inverbervie, Kincardine, Scot.--died Feb. 27, 1735, London, Eng.), Scottish mathematician, physician, and occasional writer, remembered as the close friend of Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, and John Gay and as a founding member of their famous Scriblerus Club, which aimed to ridicule bad literature and false learning.After taking a medical degree in 1696 at the University of St. Andrews, Arbuthnot became a fellow of the Royal Society in 1704 and was one of Queen Anne's physicians from 1705 until her death. Though he published mathematical and other scientific..
Muriel Spark, in full Dame Muriel Sarah Spark, nee Camberg, (born February 1, 1918, Edinburgh, Scotland--died April 13, 2006, Florence, Italy), British writer best known for the satire and wit with which the serious themes of her novels are presented.Spark was educated in Edinburgh and later spent some years in Central Africa; the latter served as the setting for her first volume of short stories, The Go-Away Bird and Other Stories (1958). She returned to Great Britain during World War II and worked for the Foreign Office, writing propaganda. She then served as general secretary of the Poetry..
Alexander McCall Smith, byname Sandy McCall Smith, (born August 24, 1948, Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia [now Zimbabwe]), British writer, creator of a series of novels about Precious Ramotswe, a fictional character who is Botswana's only female detective.McCall Smith was raised in Southern Rhodesia and moved to Scotland at age 18 to study at the University of Edinburgh. He received a law degree in 1971 and then returned to Africa, where he helped to establish the law school at the University of Botswana. Back at the University of Edinburgh, where he eventually became a professor of medical law,..
Tobias Smollett, in full Tobias George Smollett, (baptized March 19, 1721, Cardross, Dumbartonshire, Scot.--died Sept. 17, 1771, near Livorno, Tuscany [Italy]), Scottish satirical novelist, best known for his picaresque novels The Adventures of Roderick Random (1748) and The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle (1751) and his epistolary novel The Expedition of Humphry Clinker (1771).Smollett came of a family of lawyers and soldiers, Whig in politics and Presbyterian in religion. In 1727 or 1728 he entered Dumbarton grammar school, proceeding from there to the University of Glasgow and apprenticeship..
Sir Walter Scott, in full Sir Walter Scott, 1st Baronet, (born August 15, 1771, Edinburgh, Scotland--died September 21, 1832, Abbotsford, Roxburgh, Scotland), Scottish novelist, poet, historian, and biographer who is often considered both the inventor and the greatest practitioner of the historical novel.Scott's father was a lawyer, and his mother was the daughter of a physician. From his earliest years, Scott was fond of listening to his elderly relatives' accounts and stories of the Scottish Border, and he soon became a voracious reader of poetry, history, drama, and fairy tales and..
Robert Burns, (born January 25, 1759, Alloway, Ayrshire, Scotland--died July 21, 1796, Dumfries, Dumfriesshire), national poet of Scotland, who wrote lyrics and songs in Scots and in English. He was also famous for his amours and his rebellion against orthodox religion and morality.LifeBurns's father had come to Ayrshire from Kincardineshire in an endeavour to improve his fortunes, but, though he worked immensely hard first on the farm of Mount Oliphant, which he leased in 1766, and then on that of Lochlea, which he took in 1777, ill luck dogged him, and he died in 1784, worn out and bankrupt...
Thomas Carlyle, (born December 4, 1795, Ecclefechan, Dumfriesshire, Scotland--died February 5, 1881, London, England), Scottish historian and essayist, whose major works include The French Revolution, 3 vol. (1837), On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic in History (1841), and The History of Friedrich II of Prussia, Called Frederick the Great, 6 vol. (1858-65).Early lifeCarlyle was the second son of James Carlyle, the eldest child of his second marriage. James Carlyle was a mason by trade and, later, a small farmer, a man of profound Calvinist convictions whose character and way of life..
Robert Louis Stevenson, in full Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson, (born November 13, 1850, Edinburgh, Scotland--died December 3, 1894, Vailima, Samoa), Scottish essayist, poet, and author of fiction and travel books, best known for his novels Treasure Island (1881), Kidnapped (1886), Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), and The Master of Ballantrae (1889).Early lifeStevenson was the only son of Thomas Stevenson, a prosperous civil engineer, and his wife, Margaret Isabella Balfour. His poor health made regular schooling difficult, but he attended Edinburgh Academy and other..
James Boswell, (born October 18 [October 29, New Style], 1740, Edinburgh, Scotland—died May 19, 1795, London, England), friend and biographer of Samuel Johnson (Life of Johnson, 2 vol., 1791). The 20th-century publication of his journals proved him to be also one of the world’s greatest diarists.Edinburgh and LondonBoswell’s father, Alexander Boswell, advocate and laird of Auchinleck in Ayrshire from 1749, was raised to the bench with the judicial title of Lord Auchinleck in 1754. The Boswells were an old and well-connected family, and James was subjected to the strong pressure of an ambitious..
Ian Rankin, in full Ian James Rankin, pseudonym Jack Harvey, (born April 28, 1960, Cardenden, Fife, Scotland), Scottish best-selling crime novelist, creator of the Inspector Rebus series. (For Rankin’s reflections on the Scottish capital, see Edinburgh: A City of Stories.)Rankin grew up in a small coal-mining town, where at a young age he displayed a talent for writing poetry. He studied English literature at the University of Edinburgh, receiving a bachelor’s degree in 1982. While working on a never-finished Ph.D. in Scottish literature, he began writing the story that would become his..
Norman MacCaig, in full Norman Alexander MacCaig, (born Nov. 14, 1910, Edinburgh, Scot.--died Jan. 23, 1996, Edinburgh), one of the most important Scottish poets of the 20th century.After graduation from the University of Edinburgh, MacCaig held various teaching positions, mostly in Edinburgh. His early published works, which he later disavowed, were Far Cry (1943) and The Inward Eye (1946). In Riding Lights (1955), his characteristic poetic voice--recalling the polished Metaphysical elegance of John Donne--was first revealed. Many of his images were taken from the natural world,..
Robert Blair, (born 1699, Edinburgh, Scot.--died Feb. 4, 1746, Athelstaneford, East Lothian), Scottish poet remembered for a single poem, The Grave, which was influential in giving rise to the graveyard school (q.v.) of poetry.Educated in Edinburgh and Holland, Blair was ordained in 1731 and appointed to Athelstaneford, East Lothian. He was happily married, had six children, and devoted his leisure to poetry, botany, and optical experiments.The Grave (1743), a long, uneven poem in blank verse, is a reflection on human mortality in mortuary imagery. Though it appeared a year after Edward..
George MacDonald Fraser, (born April 2, 1925, Carlisle, Eng.--died Jan. 2, 2008, Strang, Isle of Man), British writer best known for his series of historical novels about the exploits of Harry Flashman, a hard-drinking, womanizing, and vain character depicted as playing a leading role in many major events of the 19th century.Fraser served in the British army from 1943 to 1947; a memoir of his experiences, Quartered Safe Out Here, appeared in 1992. He trained as a journalist and served as deputy editor of the Glasgow Herald (1964-69). The success of his first novel, Flashman: From the Flashman..
Magnus Magnusson, Icelandic-born author and British television personality (born Oct. 12, 1929, Reykjavik, Ice.--died Jan. 7, 2007, Blairskaith, East Dunbartonshire, Eng.), despite a long and distinguished scholarly career, was best known for his 25-year stint (1972-97) as the tough but fair host of the BBC quiz show Mastermind. Magnusson, the son of Iceland's consul general in Edinburgh, studied at Jesus College, Oxford, and worked as a newspaper reporter and assistant editor with The Scottish Daily Express (1953-61) and as an assistant editor with The Scotsman (1961-68). He moved..
James Thomson, (born Sept. 11, 1700, Ednam, Roxburgh, Scot.--died Aug. 27, 1748, Richmond, Eng.), Scottish poet whose best verse foreshadowed some of the attitudes of the Romantic movement. His poetry also gave expression to the achievements of Newtonian science and to an England reaching toward great political power based on commercial and maritime expansion.Educated at Jedburgh Grammar School and the University of Edinburgh, Thomson went to London in 1725. While earning his living there as a tutor, he published his masterpiece, a long, blank verse poem in four parts, called The Seasons:..
Andrew Lang, (born March 31, 1844, Selkirk, Selkirkshire, Scot.--died July 20, 1912, Banchory, Aberdeenshire), Scottish scholar and man of letters noted for his collections of fairy tales and translations of Homer.Educated at St. Andrews University and at Balliol College, Oxford, he held an open fellowship at Merton College until 1875, when he moved to London. He quickly became famous for his critical articles in The Daily News and other papers. He displayed talent as a poet in Ballads and Lyrics of Old France (1872), Helen of Troy (1882), and Grass of Parnassus (1888) and as a novelist with..
Douglas Dunn, in full Douglas Eaglesham Dunn, (born October 23, 1942, Inchinnan, Renfrewshire, Scotland), Scottish writer and critic best known for his poems evoking working-class British life.Dunn left school at 17 to become a junior library assistant. He worked at libraries in Britain and the United States before completing his higher education at the University of Hull, England, in 1969. In 1971 he left his job as an assistant librarian at the university--where he worked under Philip Larkin--to pursue his writing.Dunn's first book of poetry, Terry Street (1969), was widely hailed for..
William Dunbar, (born 1460/65, Scotland--died before 1530), Middle Scots poet attached to the court of James IV who was the dominant figure among the Scottish Chaucerians (see makar) in the golden age of Scottish poetry.He was probably of the family of the earls of Dunbar and March and may have received an M.A. degree from St. Andrews in 1479. It is believed that he was a Franciscan novice and travelled to England and France in the King's service. In 1501 he was certainly in England, probably in connection with the arrangements for the marriage of James IV and Margaret Tudor, which took place in 1503...
Robert Dale Owen, (born Nov. 9, 1801, Glasgow, Scot.--died June 24, 1877, Lake George, N.Y., U.S.), American social reformer and politician. The son of the English reformer Robert Owen, Robert Dale Owen was steeped in his father's socialist philosophy while growing up at New Lanark in Scotland--the elder Owen's model industrial community. In 1825 father and son immigrated to the United States to set up another self-sufficient socialist community at New Harmony, Ind.Robert Dale Owen edited the community's newspaper, the New Harmony Gazette, until 1827, when he became associated with the..