Monday, 21 February 2011

Literature in Scots

Hot on the heels of the revelation that an undiscovered letter by Robert Burns had been found — complete with an early version of "On Seeing a Wounded Hare" — comes the news that the Arts and Humanities Research Council is to provide £1 million of funding to Glasgow University produce the definitive multi-volume academic edition of the poet's works.

Here's to more of the same, and not just for such obvious figures as Scott or Stevenson but also for those unjustly confined to the middle ranks of literary fame such as John Galt and James Hogg. The truth is that the more one knows of Scottish vernacular literature, the higher one's opinion of it becomes.

And it's not just Scotland. Last week the Blether Region featured Robert Huddleston, hundreds of whose unpublished works are held in the archive of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum. If only 10% are any good, Huddleston is clearly a poet who deserves to be read, and, as a first step, it would surely be fitting for the museum to receive a grant to digitise his works and make them freely available on the Internet.

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