Recent Publications

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The Gude and Godlie Ballatis [forthcoming, end 2015], ed. A. A. MacDonald

This collection is a vital piece of the literature of the Scottish Reformation, demonstrating the confessional changes that took place in the 1560s and 1570s. This edition, the first of the collection as a whole since the nineteenth century, is also the first since the sixteenth century to present the text of the first publication of 1565. In the introduction, Professor MacDonald discusses the transmission and circulation of the collection through subsequent printings, considers the likely authors of the material, identifies models and sources, often in German poems, for the material it presents and finally, locates the collection in the turbulent religious culture of the time.

The Maitland Quarto: A New Edition of Cambridge, Magdalene College, Pepys Library MS 1408 [forthcoming June, 2015], ed. Joanna Martin

The Maitland Quarto Manuscript was compiled in c.1586 in the circle of the Maitland Family of Lethington, East Lothian. It is a highly significant and rich collection of Older Scots poetry. It contains the most complete collection of the poems of Sir Richard Maitland, judge, privy counsellor, and Keeper of the Great Seal of Scotland under Mary Queen of Scots, together with poems attributed to Maitland's heir, John Maitland of Thirlestane, Chancellor to James VI, and to leading writers and intellectuals, including the king himself, Alexander Montgomerie, and Alexander Arbuthnot. It attests to new developments in Scottish literature in the late sixteenth century by including many unique examples of Calvinist lyric, the earliest known British Country House poem, and Sapphic verse, as well as poems influenced by Italian and French sources. It also provides evidence for the role of women in the composition, collection and copying of Older Scots verse.
This critical edition offers fresh access to the fascinating contents of this important manuscript. It provides an authoritative text, with full modern annotation and glossary. Its introduction and notes address the textual transmission of the poems, and offer detailed contextualization of them in both historical and literary terms.

Richard Holland, The Buke of the Howlat [2014], ed. Ralph Hanna

The Buke of the Howlat was composed in the late 1440s for Elizabeth Dunbar, wife of Archibald Douglas, earl of Moray. It is perhaps the finest example of Older Scots alliterative poetry, telling a comic fable of an owl's borrowed feathers, his pride and ultimate fall, and a bird parliament which decides his fate. At its centre is a heraldic excurses which leads to a celebration of the virtues of the Douglas family and their service to Robert Bruce in the Scottish Wars of Independence. Its themes include Scottish freedom, aristocratic achievement, and good self- and political governance; its influences are drawn from chanson d'aventure, beast fable and complaint, and embrace the French, Scots, Gaelic and English Chaucerian and northern literary traditions. Ralph Hanna’s introduction draws particular attention to its metre and its circulation, as well as its rich tapestry of inter-textual references.

Shorter Scottish Medieval Romances [2012], ed. Rhiannon Purdie

The four romances in this collection have been unjustly neglected. Indeed, Florimond, King Orphius and Sir Colling were entirely unknown to modern audiences - despite some late-medieval references to the first two - until fragmentary copies were unearthed in the National Archives of Scotland in the 1970s: all three are researched and fully edited for the first time here. King Orphius, closely and significantly related to the famous Middle English romance Sir Orfeo, is supplemented here with the Laing fragment discovered by the present editor in 2010. Roswall and Lillian survives in later prints and was a favourite text of Sir Walter Scott's - he owned at least three copies of it - but it has not been edited since the nineteenth century. Each text is supplied with comprehensive explanatory notes and an introduction, including full discussion of extant witnesses and circulation history; linguistic and other evidence for date and provenance; literary context; analogues and influences. There is a combined glossary, and an Appendix presents the text of the English Percy Folio ballad "Sir Cawline" as derived from the Scots Sir Colling.

DR. RHIANNON PURDIE is Senior Lecturer in Medieval English, University of St Andrews.

Older Scots: A Linguistic Reader, Jeremy J. Smith

This book enables both students and more advanced scholars to develop a comprehensive understanding of Older Scots, the form of Scots which survives in records up to around 1700. It provides the means of understanding the language's essential characteristics, and enables readers to engage with the fascinating textual and linguistic problems which it presents. The volume contains an extensive set of annotated texts from the period, inviting closer engagement with the detail of the language, which are preceded by a comprehensive introduction to and discussion of the subject; it also looks at the linguistic detail (in the broadest sense) of the reception and afterlife of medieval and early modern Scottish texts. Those interested in literary form in Older Scottish literature will find it a "kit" for stylistic analysis; book historians will appreciate the detailed studies of processes of production and reception, and be reminded of the importance of integrating disciplines such as textual criticism, codicology, paleography and philology; and for linguists, there is access to an unrivalled body of up-to-date textual information, previously hard to find in a single place.

JEREMY J. SMITH is Professor of English Philology, University of Glasgow.

Archibald Pitcairne. The Phanaticks, ed. John MacQueen

Written at the very end of the seventeenth century, The Phanaticks (previously known as The Assembly) satirises in dramatic form contemporary political and religious affairs, presenting some well-known figures in the thinnest of disguises. Overtly a comedy about two young women opposed by such forces as the Governer of Edinburgh Castle (Lord Huffy), it is an excoriating attack on the hypocrisy and political chicanery of Scottish religious sects, alongside its romance and sexual innuendo. The author, Archibald Pitcairne, was a celebrated physician and wit; this work demonstrates his talent for controversy (he was ejected from the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, an institution which he helped to found, after a dispute about his theoretical approaches to medicine). Indeed, so provocative was it deemed that despite being printed in 1722 and 1752, there is no record of any contemporary performance. This first modern edition is based on an early manuscript, with corrections possibly in Pitcairne's own hand; it is presented with full contextual and historical notes.

JOHN MACQUEEN is Emeritus Professor of English, University of Edinburgh.

The Ballad Repertoire of Anna Gordon, Mrs Brown of Falkland, ed. Sigrid Rieuwerts

It is generally acknowledged that no Scottish ballads are superior in kind to those recited by Mrs Brown of Falkland (1747-1810). Her ballads date from an earlier age and contain the themes and motifs of medieval romance and folk tale, a world full of kings and queens, knights and ladies, love and betrayal and encounters with the otherworld. They are entirely from an oral tradition, passed down a female line of transmission from her mother, grandmother and aunts; they thus provide a unique glimpse into the collective memory of Scotland in the age of enlightenment.

This edition presents Mrs Brown's collection entirely in the order in which she preserved it, prior to the intervention of (male) ballad collectors such as Walter Scott, Robert Jamieson and `Monk' Lewis. It provides the texts of all Mrs Brown's manuscripts; where a ballad is recorded in more than one version, it presents the different recensions in facing page format, enabling an easy comparison. Music from the original manuscripts is also given in modern notation. A full introduction and notes complete the volume.

Professor SIGRID RIEUWERTS teaches at Siegen University.

Golagros and Gawane, ed. Ralph Hanna

The Knightly Tale of Golagros and Gawane, the finest of all Older Scots romances, was written during the last quarter of the fifteenth century. It was one of the earliest works published by Scotland's first printers, Chepman and Myllar, on 8 April 1508. It uses the thirteen-line alliterative multi-rhymed  stanza to vivid effect. Its greatest sophistication, however, lies in its thematic engagement with matters of sovereignty and chivalry, in its persistent interest in negotiated exchanges rather than outright warfare, and in its moving depictions of the limitations of an aristocratic ethos fundamentally dedicated to destructive violence.  The introduction and notes to this new edition of the poem show how the Golagros poet works from two Arthurian adventures he derived from the prose continuations  to Chretien de Troyes'  Perceval, following a Scottish tradition of rehandling prose material into verse. It also reveals, however, the poem's extensive knowledge of an earlier romance likely composed on the borders of north-western England, The Awntyrs of Arthur at the Tarn Wadling, and thus situates Golagros against traditions both French and English.

The text is re-edited from the sole witness, the Chepman and Myllar print, and the introduction also supplies valuable new commentary on early print culture in Scotland. Extensive notes and a full concordance-glossary are also supplied. This is likely to become the standard edition of the poem.

RALPH HANNA is Professor of Palaeography, University of Oxford, and a tutorial Fellow of Keble College. Previously, he was Distinguished Professor of English at the University of California, Riverside. He has held Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships. His work, involving a diverse range of late medieval British texts and their manuscript transmission, concentrates in the main upon Piers Plowman, alliterative poetry and translation/language relations. His most recent book-length study is London Literature 1300-1380 (Cambridge, 2005), and he recently produced Richard Rolle: Uncollected Verse and Prose with related Northern Texts for the Early English Text Society, vol. 329 (Oxford, 2007).

The Poems of Walter Kennedy, ed. Nicole Meier

Walter Kennedy is best known as William Dunbar's feisty opponent in their celebrated Flyting, but his poetic talents, praised by such famous near-contemporaries as Gavin Douglas and David Lyndsay, extend far beyond this, ranging from short bawdy lyric to sustained devotional meditation.

This first complete edition of all his surviving poetry offers parallel-text versions of all the textual witnesses for each poem,  a full set of textual and explanatory notes, a substantial glossary,  helpful appendices. An extensive introduction provides biographical information and sets the text in its cultural and intellectual context.

The book is conceived as an invitation to Kennedy's poetry and a tribute to a master of many registers and genres and a significant poetic voice of the late Middle Ages.

NICOLE MEIER lectures at the Institut für Anglistik, Amerikanistik und Keltologie, University of Bonn.

David Hume of Godscroft’s The History of the House of Angus, ed. D. Reid, 2 vols  

David Hume of Godscroft’s informed, racy, and opinionated History of the House of Angus is the second part of his history of the house of Douglas. Written during the reign of James VI and I, it was first published in 1646; this is the first modern edition. This work deals with the Red Douglases, but for Hume family history is a regular trajectory into a historiographical narrative engaging with the major political dramas of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, in particular the deposition of Mary Queen of Scots. David Reid’s excellent introduction and notes reveal Hume’s work as a politicised piece of Presbyterian historiography that achieves striking variations on materials inherited from Buchanan, Calderwood, and others.

The Prose Works of Sir Gilbert Hay, ed. Jonathan A. Glenn, 3 vols

In 1456, at Roslin Castle, Sir Gilbert Hay translated three European best-sellers for the then Chancellor of Scotland, William Sinclair, earl of Orkney and Caithness. Hay’s excellent prose style and his recastings of his originals make these translations intriguing works in their own right. The Scottish Text Society presents them here in a new three-volume edition.

Volume III: The Buke of Knychthede and The Buke of the Gouernaunce of Princis (1993), contains newly edited versions of two of these best-sellers. The Buke of Knychthede is a translation from French of a chivalric manual originally written in Catalan by the celebrated author Ramon Lull, while The Buke of the Gouernaunce of Princis, is a translation of a version of the Secreta Secretorum, one of the key works in the “advice to princes” tradition. 

Volume II: The Buke of the Law of Armys (2005) is a treatise on the principles of warfare, renowned throughout Europe. It provided a conspectus of instruction and lore that any self-respecting nobleman would have wished to have in his library.

Volume I, which will complete the set, will provide the commentary (on author, manuscript, sources, language), glossary and index.

The Shorter Poems of Gavin Douglas, revised edition, ed. P. Bawcutt

First published in 1967, this edition has been revised and updated by its editor, and includes substantial additional notes and bibliography. It contains Douglas’s Palice of Honour, the major dream-vision poem he composed a decade before his Eneados translation. The Palice is a sprightly and learned poem, responsive both to Chaucerian and to Ovidian influences, but also inventively independent of them. Its yoking of poetics and the pursuit of virtue shows Douglas to be a significant early Renaissance writer.

 The volume also contains revised editions of two poems associated with Douglas, though unlikely to be his, the short poem Conscience and the lengthier and still neglected allegory of desire and self-government King Hart.

The Older Scots Vowels: A History of the Stressed Vowels of Older Scots from the Beginnings to the Eighteenth Century, by A.J. Aitken, ed. C. Macafee

In this definitive treatment of the vowel phonology of Older Scots, the late A.J. Aitken adds considerable refinements to his existing authoritative works on the subject. Drawing upon his extensive knowledge of orthography and rhyme, as senior editor of A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (DOST), he also adds the evidence of recent textual studies and of modern dialectal variation. This work will be an essential tool for scholars and students of Older Scots, a valuable adjunct to DOST, and the indispensable starting point for all future investigations in this area.

Prof. Aitken was working on this monograph at the time of his death in 1998. It has been edited and provided with notes, an introduction and indices by his former student, Dr. Caroline Macafee.

The Song Repertoire of Amelia and Jane Harris ed. Emily Lyle, Kaye McAlpine, Anne Dhu McLucas

The Harris sisters’ ballad collection is an important source for the Scottish song tradition. This is the first published edition of the full collection. It will provide academics, singers and lovers of ballads with a valuable body of songs and ballads from Perthshire and Angus, collected by two women who were aware not only of the cultural value of the ballad legacy they had inherited, but of that of other singers in the area. The collection was compiled in the nineteenth century, but the ballad versions frequently look back to much earlier material. Their sources can be traced to locations including Fearn, Tibbermore, Blairgowrie, Dron and Brechin, and the collection features fascinating versions of ballads such as “Johnnie Armstrong” and “Tod Lowrie”. The original music is reproduced, along with modern notation, and the volume supplies much commentary material.

Alexander Montgomerie, Poems, ed. David J. Parkinson, 2 vols

A new edition of a major Renaissance poet. Alexander Montgomerie (c. 1543-98) was the most talented and original of the poets writing during the reign of James VI, and the variety and the quality of his verse, from the sonnet to the flyting, marks him out as a key figure in both the history of Scottish literature and sixteenth-century poetry in Britain. David Parkinson’s edition, the first for nearly a century, reassesses both the canon and the textual history of Montgomerie’s writing and offers new texts of many of his works, along with extensive notes and the musical settings of some of the poems.

The Buke of the Chess, ed. Catherine van Buuren

A verse translation made c. 1500 from Latin of a work very popular across Europe in the Middle Ages. The Buke of the Chess offers counsel to all members of society through the analogy of the pieces involved in a game of chess. Inset into the instruction are anecdotes and miniature narratives, often very pithily rendered in this Scots translation. The work survives in one of the most important anthologies of Scots verse and prose, the Asloan manuscript. It is edited here for the first time with glossary and notes.

David Hume of Godscroft’s The History of the House of Douglas, ed. D. Reid, 2 vols 

The Douglas family were important sponsors and subjects of literature throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Hume’s History was commissioned by the tenth earl of Angus in the late sixteenth century. In addition to its colourful cameos of a succession of noted or notorious Douglases, it also engages in dialogue with previous historiographers, notably George Buchanan. Anxious about the potential in monarchy for tyranny, but equally concerned about the dangers of self-seeking (and non-Douglas) noble subjects, Hume’s History is a telling ideological document. 

David Reid’s introduction also unravels the poem’s textual history over the near half-century up to its first printing in 1633 and its subsequent revision in 1644.

Andrew Crawfurd’s Collection of Ballads and Songs, ed. E.B. Lyle, 2 vols

This edition makes available the collection of one of the most active and interesting of Scotland’s ballad collectors. Andrew Crawfurd acquired and assembled his ballads and songs principally in the 1820s. Over two hundred of them are printed here, with accompanying tunes, when known. The first volume concentrates on the repertoires of four singers, of whom Mary Macqueen is the most extensively represented. The second volume presents the rest of Crawfurd’s collection, a substantial part of which was collected in Ayrshire by Thomas Macqueen, Mary’s brother. Crawfurd sought out those texts that were preserved through oral rather than written tradition and this imparts a particular distinction to his corpus. Versions of famous ballads featured in these volumes include “The Cruel Mother”, “The Three Ravens”, and “The Wee Wee Man”.

The Deidis of Armorie, ed. LA.J.R. Houwen, 2 vols

The Deidis of Armorie is a late fifteenth-century heraldic manual and bestiary translated from French into Scots by Kintyre Pursuivant Adam Loutfut at the behest of Marchmont Herald Sir William Cumming of Inverallochy. This work offers a fascinating example of the working materials of heralds in the Middle Ages; it sets out modes of address, explains heraldic colours and charges, and then delivers a detailed heraldic version of that popular staple of medieval didactic literature, the animal and avian bestiary. The Deidis is edited here for the first time from its four surviving manuscripts, and the notes contain a wealth of information on medieval heraldic and animal lore.

James Watson’s Choice Collection of Comic and Serious Scots Poems, ed. Harriet Harvey Wood, 2 vols

James Watson’s Choice Collection is the first known printed collection of Older Scots verse. Watson, a significant figure in the history of Scottish printing, began to put these works into print in 1706, shortly before the Union of the Parliaments that saw the official loss of Scottish independence and to which Watson was opposed. This eclectic mixture of sixteenth- and seventeenth-century pieces along with some earlier works, has examples from many key genres in Scottish literary history, such as the beast poem, the mock testament, the elegy, the “peasant brawl” poem, and the drinking song. Harriet Harvey Wood’s commentary provides considered textual analysis of all the pieces in a fascinating collection which suggests links both back to Dunbar and Lyndsay, and forward to Burns and Garioch.

John Ireland, The Meroure of Wyssdome, vol. II, ed. F. Quinn, vol. III, ed. Craig McDonald

Books III – VII of the prose treatise originally written for James III but rededicated to his son, James IV, after his father “happinit to be slane” in 1489 during a magnate rebellion against him. John Ireland was a cleric, theologian, and occasional diplomat. His prose works indicate the expanding role of the Scots vernacular as a vehicle for theological argument for a literate lay audience. Books III-VII contain material dealing with the very topical debate on free will and predestination added by Ireland to his original conception of the Meroure. The final book, VII, moves away from the primarily spiritual focus of the earlier books to offer James IV political advice on good government and the limitations of princely power. Ireland’s Meroure is a major early text in the Scottish “advice to princes” tradition.

The Buik of King Alexander the Conquerour, vols II and III, ed. John Cartwright (vol. I not yet published)

The full text of a major Older Scots romance work. The Buik of King Alexander is a pacey and elaborate narrative of the career and exploits of one of the celebrated rulers of antiquity. Alexander narratives were extremely popular across Europe in the Middle Ages. This Scots version is one of the last to be produced and draws on an eclectic range of sources to produce a romance that situates Alexander in a Christian context while foregoing none of his story’s traditional bellicosity and drama. The poem is printed from a version copied in 1499 and based on a work originally composed by Sir Gilbert Hay, c. 1460.

Selected Sermons of Zachary Boyd, ed. David Atkinson

A selection from both the published and the unpublished sermons of this seventeenth-century divine. Boyd’s writings afford valuable insights into both Protestant spirituality and Protestant politics in the wake of the National Covenant of 1638. They also provide splendid illustration of the development in Scots of the Protestant plain style: “The most part of gods children are like the psalmists mariners. They reele to and fro and stagger like drunken men. But when all their cunning is gone, then they crye unto the Lord in their trouble [Ps 107; 28]”. In Boyd’s sermons we hear a tone of voice that continues memorably in Scots literary tradition in the writings of James Hogg and Sir Walter Scott.

The Complaynt of Scotland, ed. A.M. Stewart

Composed c. 1550, possibly by Robert Wedderburn of Dundee, the Complaynt is a notable work in the history of Scottish prose and patriotic writing. Though based on a French original, Alain Chartier’s Quadrilogue Invectif, the Complaynt is an often original and highly topical composition. Dedicated to the queen regent, Mary of Guise, its political targets are the English nation, and the failings of the three estates of Scotland. But the work has much in it besides this, including a splendid pastoral interlude. Written in what its author terms “domestic scottis langage” the Complaynt is a lively and learned piece of polemic, as well as a valuable compendium of aspects of Scottish lore and literary culture.

The Works of Allan Ramsay, vols IV, V, and VI, ed. Alexander M. Kinghorn and Alexander Law

These three final volumes in the Society’s edition of Ramsay’s works collect his previously unpublished poems, along with early drafts of the Gentle Shepherd, and prose works, including the prefaces to the Ever Green (1726) and the Tea Table Miscellany (1734). Also included are Ramsay’s letters, the journal of the Easy Club, Ramsay’s collection of Scots proverbs, and poems about him. These are accompanied by substantial biographical, critical, and bibliographical studies, and by a glossary of the Scots words used in Ramsay’s poems in volumes III and IV.