Scottish Literary Calendar: 12. December


            Now mirk December’s dowie face
Glours our the rigs wi’ sour grimace,
While, thro’ his minimum of space,
The bleer-ey’d sun
Wi’ blinkin light and stealing pace,
His race doth run.

Robert Fergusson The Daft Days

1|12|1887  First appearance of A Study in Scarlet by Conan Doyle . Ref:  0701.01(LS)

**2|12|1822 David Masson, biographer of Milton and Drummond of Hawthornden, is born, Aberdeen . Ref:   0702.01(LS)**

2|12|1956  Janice Galloway, novelist,  born Ardrossan, Ayrshire. Her first novel will be the highly praised The Trick is to Keep Breathing (1990).  Ref:   0702.02(LS)

**3|12|1894  Death from a cerebral haemorrhage of Robert Louis Stevenson, in Samoa. The Samoans call him ‘Tusitala’, the story-teller.   Ref:   0703.01(LS)**

**4|12|1795 Thomas Carlyle, eminent historian, born Ecclefechan, Dumfries-shire.  Ref:   0704.01(LS)**

5|12|1824 Walter Chalmers Smith, hymn-writer and poet, known as ‘Orwell’, is born in Aberdeen.  Ref:   0705.01(LS)

6|12|1905 William Sharp, the novelist and poet, who adopted the name ‘Fiona Macleod’ (whom he regarded as an almost totally separate person), dies.  Ref:   0706.01(LS)

6|12|1934 Forrest Wilson, author of Super Gran and other children’s novels, is born, Renfrew.  Ref:   0706.02(LS)

7|12|1837  Robert Nicholl, Perthshire poet dies, aged 33 years. A prominent obelisk commemorates him in his native place, Tullybelton.  Ref:   0707.01(LS)

7|12|1947  Ann Fine, novelist, including children’s novels, such as Madame Doubtfire, is born in Leicestershire.   Ref:   0707.01(LS)

**8|12|1859  Thomas De Quincey (1785-1859), opium-addict and critic, long resident in Midlothian and in Glasgow, dies at Mavis Bank, Lasswade, near Edinburgh.   Ref:   0708.01(LS)**

9|12|1931 Ian McIntyre, journalist, broadcaster and biographer of Burns, born, Banchory.  Ref:   0709.01(LS)

10|12|1824 George MacDonald, novelist and teller of fairy tales, born Huntly, Aberdeenshire.  Ref:   0710.01(LS)

**10|12|1907 Rumer Godden, novelist (Back Narcissus), who lived in Dumfries-shire, is born, Kent.   Ref:   0710.01(LS)**

11|12|1781 Sir David Brewster, scientist and editor of the Edinburgh Encylopaedia born.   Ref:   0711.01(LS)

12|12|1889 (Rev) Edward Bradley, author of the spoof, Travels in Tartanland, dies . Ref:   0712.01(LS)

13|12|1585 William Drummond, poet,  is born at Hawthornden of which estate he becomes laird in 1610. He will be  the first great Scottish poet to write in English.  Ref:   0713.01(LS)

14|12|1756  First performance of the tragedy Douglas by (Reverend) John Home, in Edinburgh. It calls forth the cry, by a member of the audience, “Whaur’s yer Wullie Shakespeare noo?”. Ref:   0714.01(LS)

14|12|1895 John MacNair Reid (1895-1954), novelist and poet, born Glasgow.  Ref:   0714.02(LS)

15|12|1791  Robert Burns writes thefamous letter to Mrs. Maclehose beginning “I have some merit, my ever dearest of women, in attracting and securing the heart of Clarinda”. Ref:   0715.01(LS)

15|12|1981 Claud Cockburn, journalist and subversive, great-grandson of Lord Cockburn, dies, Cork.  Ref:   0715.02(LS)

16|12|1766 James Grainger, Berwickshire-born poet and critic, dies . Ref:   0716.01(LS)

16|12|1788 Robert Cadell, the publisher who persuaded J.M.W. Turner to illustrate Scott’s works, is born.   Ref:   0716.02(LS)

17|12|1945  Release of the quintessentially Scottish movie, I Know Where I’m Going, script by the Hungarian film-maker, Emeric Pressburger.  Ref:   0717.01(LS)

17|12|1957  Dorothy L. Sayers, author of  detective stories, including Five Red Herrings, set in Galloway, dies.  Ref:   0717.01(LS)

18|12|1904  Albert Mackie, historian, born Brunswick Road, Edinburgh . Ref:   0718.01(LS)

19|12|1818 Mary Brunton, novelist, dies in Edinburgh of a fever, aged 40.  Ref:   0719.01(LS)

19|12|1832 Francis Jeffrey (1773-1850), critic, elected Member of Parliament for Edinburgh.  Ref:   0719.02(LS)

19|12|1923 Gordon Jackson, the actor who appeared in several notable films made from  famous  Scottish books, including Whisky Galore (1949) and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1969), is born.   Ref:   0719.03(LS)

20|12|1883  Oscar Wilde lectures in Edinburgh on ‘The Value of Art in Modern Life’. Ref:   0720.01(LS)

21|12|1835  Sir John Sinclair, editor of The Statistical Account of Scotland, dies . Ref:   0721.01(LS)

21|12|1892  Rebecca West (Cicily Isabel Fairfield), novelist, is born, Edinburgh.  Ref:   0721.02(LS)

21|12|1968  James Kennaway, author of Tunes of Glory, dies.  Ref:   0721.03(LS)

22|12|1930 Neil Munro, journalist, novelist and poet, dies. His last years were spent living in Helensburgh on the Firth of Clyde.  Ref:   0722.01(LS)

23|12|1812 Samuel Smiles, biographer, born 2.0723.01(LS)

23|12|1856 Hugh Miller, author and geologist, commits suicide.   Ref:   0723.02(LS)

23|12|1955  Carol Ann Duffy, poet, winner of the Whitbread Prize 1993, and the first woman Poet Laureate born, Glasgow .  Ref:   0723.03(LS)

24|12|1889 Charles MacKay, Perth-born journalist and songwriter, who lived at one time at Soroba House, Oban, dies.   Ref:   0724.01(LS)

24|12|1907  The ‘Daft Days’ begin (and end on Hansel Monday, the first Monday of the New Year). ‘The Daft Days’ are the subject of a poem by Robert Fergusson,  which gave Neil Munro the title for his novel of that name, published in 1907.  Ref:   0724.02(LS)

25|12|1665 Lady Grizel Baillie, songwriter, born . Ref:   0725.01(LS)

25|12|1801 William Wilson (1801-60), Perthshire-born poet and Poughkeepsie publisher, isborn at Crieff.  Ref:   0725.02(LS)

25|12|1904 J.B.Selkirk [James Brown] (1832-04), poet, dies . Ref:   0725.03(LS)

26|12|1780 Mary Somerville, notable as a nineteenth century writer on scientific subjects, born, Jedburgh.   Ref:   0726.01(LS)

26|12|1947 Liz Lochhead, poet,  born Motherwell, Lanarkshire. Her collections of poetry will include Bagpipe Muzak (1991); her plays will include Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off (1987).  Ref:   0726.01(LS)

27|12|1800 Hugh Blair, poet and critic, dies. He was a leading supporter of James MacPherson’s ‘Ossianic’ poetry.  Ref:   0727.01(LS)

27|12|1904  First performance of Peter Pan by James Barrie.  Ref:   0727.01(LS)


28|12|1835 Archibald Geikie, geologist and miscellaneous writer, is born.  Ref:   0728.01(LS)

**28|12|1859  Thomas Babington Macaulay, historian and MP, dies.  Ref:   0728.01(LS)**

28|12|1908 Alastair Dunnett, newspaper editor, born . Ref:   0728.01(LS)

28|12|1934 Alasdair Gray, artist/novelist, born, Glasgow;  . Ref:   0728.01(LS)

29|12|1822 John Francis Campbell, public servant and folklorist, born,  Islay.   Ref:   0729.01(LS)

30|12|1973  Dorothy E. Stevenson (1892-1973), novelist-daughter of RLS’s cousin David, dies, Moffat.  . Ref:   0730.01(LS)

*31|12|1830 Alexander Smith, poet and author of A Summer In Skye born, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire.  Ref:   0731.01(LS)*

31|12|1868 James David Forbes, author and notable British Alpine traveller, dies.   Ref:   0731.02(LS)

Calendar for A Scottish Literary Year: 57 entries                                 Updated: 150898

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