Thursday, October 01, 2020

"the author of two Scottish ballads unsurpassed for tenderness and pathos" - the life of William Motherwell (1797–1835)

This Scottish poet, who wrote in both English and Scots, is a new name to me. He was born in Glasgow the year after Robert Burns died, and shared a mutual friend - Robert Archibald Smith - with fellow poet Robert Tannahill. He edited a five volume set of Burns' work with James Hogg the 'Ettrick Shepherd'. Interestingly it seems that Motherwell was an Orangeman.

The Spenserians website has a number of 19th century biographies of Motherwell (link here), and the Allpoetry website has a selection of his work here, some of which is to me very good. The quote I've used in the title of this post is from this bio by James Grant Wilson. Motherwell's Wikipedia page is a bit of a hatchet job though (link here) with some pretty bizarre assertions. 

The Harp of Renfrewshire (orig 1819; 1873 edition is online here)

Minstrelsy Ancient and Modern (1827; is online here)

Poems, Narrative and Lyrical (1832; is online here)

The Works of Robert Burns, five volumes edited by James Hogg and William Motherwell (1834; volume I is online here)

William Motherwell's Cultural Politics by Mary Ellen Brown (2001; is online here)