University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Hugh MacDiarmid

Writings: 1932 - 1944


"The Titanic Incompetent: Or, The Scot Centenary Stunt." Carbon typescript, [1932], 3 pp. Typed signature "C.M. Grieve (Hugh MacDiarmid)." MacDiarmid's autograph manuscript, dated January 27, 1932, is also present.

In this short essay MacDiarmid launched a volley at another Scottish literary deity, Sir Walter Scott: "Scott no longer counts--if he ever did--in the live literature of the world. He is devoid of interest and influence to all intelligent people--unreadable, monstrous, and therefore the pet fare and idol of all the sterile pedants, the brainless hacks, and dreary herd who constitute the vast majority of Scottish writers and readers."


"Unfathered by Divorce." Autograph manuscript, undated, 1 p., signed "C.M. Grieve."

This is the manuscript of a poem, which remains unpublished, MacDiarmid wrote to his daughter Christine following his divorce from his first wife Peggy in 1931.


O Wha's Been Here Afore Me, Lass. [London: The Blue Moon Press, 1931].

This short lyric from The Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle was included in the portfolio of Blue Moon Poems for Christmas 1931. This copy is number one of one hundred copies signed by the author.


"The Visitor," by Hugh MacDiarmid. Autograph manuscript, January 25, 1932, 11 pp, accompanied by a carbon typescript, 5 pp. copy.

A manuscript of one of MacDiarmid's rare short stories in Scots.


"The Murder," by C.M. Grieve. Autograph manuscript, March 4, 1932, 5 pp., accompanied by a carbon typescript, 2 pp.

The manuscript of another effort at short fiction from the same period, this one written under the byline of C. M. Grieve.


Scots Unbound and Other Poems, by Hugh MacDiarmid. Stirling: Eneas Mackay [1932].

This edition is limited to three hundred and fifty copies all signed by the author. This collection was also designated by MacDiarmid as a portion of the projected Clann Albann.


Alone with the Alone. Autograph manuscript, [1932], 33 pp. Accompanied by a carbon typescript, [1932], 32 pp.

This material comprises the extant manuscripts for a proposed collection to be published under this title. MacDiarmid apparently intended Alone with the Alone as yet another section in Clann Albann. In an introductory "Author's Note," MacDiarmid explains that Alone with the Alone includes recent work as well as poems dating back to the early 1920s. Alone with the Alone was never published in its entirety.


"The Monolith." Autograph manuscript, undated, 1 p.

This short lyric is from the prologue to Alone with the Alone.


Scottish Scene or the Intelligent Man's Guide to Albyn, by Lewis Grassic Gibbon & Hugh MacDiarmid. London: Jarrolds, 1934.

Scottish Scene was a collaboration between two of Scotland's brightest young writers. Gibbon, who like MacDiarmid employed a pseudonym, rather than his birth name James Leslie Mitchell, had developed the idea for this series of inter-related essays, verse, and fiction. Gibbon, who died at the age of thirty four just a year after this book was published, produced a substantial body of work during his brief career and MacDiarmid regarded him as the premier writer of Scots fiction of his era.


Stony Limits and Other Poems, by Hugh MacDiarmid. London: Victor Gollancz, 1934.

Stony Limits was a strong, pivotal collection for MacDiarmid. Although the collection includes a number of Scots lyrics, it also marks a return to English and includes several of MacDiarmid's most significant poems of this period, notably "On a Raised Beach" and "Lament for the Great Music."


"Cattle Show." Autograph manuscript, [1932], 1 p.

Published originally in the third series of Northern Numbers (1922), "Cattle Show" was first collected in Stony Limits. MacDiarmid prepared this manuscript for his proposed Alone with the Alone collection.


On a Raised Beach: a Poem, by Hugh MacDiarmid. Preston: The Harris Press [1967].

First published in Stony Limits, this edition of one of MacDiarmid's most important poems is limited to two hundred numbered copies and includes drawings by Alan D. Powell. It was designed and printed as a special project by students at the School of Art, The Harris College.


Selected Poems, [by] Hugh MacDiarmid. London: Macmillan and Co., 1934.

This selection from MacDiarmid's first five collections was published in Macmillan's Contemporary Poets series.


Five Bits of Miller, by Hugh MacDiarmid. London: Published for the author [1934].

This short story was published in an edition limited to forty numbered copies signed by the author. This copy bears an additional presentation inscription from MacDiarmid.


At the Sign of the Thistle: A Collection of Essays. London: Nott, [1934].

This collection of essays was the first prose collection, apart from the collaborative Scottish Scene, to be issued under the authorship of Hugh MacDiarmid. This copy contains a presentation inscription from MacDiarmid in the year of publication.


The Birlinn of Clanranald (Birlinn Chlann-Raghnaill), by Alexander MacDonald. St. Andrews: The Abbey Book Shop, 1935. Translated from the Scots Gaelic of Alasdair MacMhaighstir Alasdair, by Hugh MacDiarmid.

Although the colophon states that the entire edition was limited to one hundred copies numbered and signed by the translator, this copy is neither signed nor numbered. MacDiarmid invoked the Gaelic poet Alasdair MacMhaighstir (ca. 1695-ca. 1770) as an example of poetry in Scots Gaelic at its highest in the text of To Circumjack Cencrastus. Here he translates the poet's best-known work.


Second Hymn to Lenin and Other Poems, by Hugh MacDiarmid. London: Stanley Nott, 1935.

This collection includes the second of MacDiarmid's poems to Lenin. The title poem was published originally in The Criterion by T. S. Eliot. The cover portrait of MacDiarmid is by the Scottish artist William Johnstone.


Scottish Eccentrics, by Hugh MacDiarmid. London: George Routledge & Sons, 1936.

MacDiarmid's biographies of ten notable Scottish historical and literary figures continued his efforts to define the unique qualities of the Scottish character.


"The Caledonian Antisyzygy and the Gaelic Idea." Autograph manuscript, undated, 21 pp. Signed by C.M. Grieve under the title.

MacDiarmid concluded Scottish Eccentrics with an epilogue titled "The Caledonian Antisyzygy." The Caledonian antisyzygy was a concept MacDiarmid borrowed from his contemporary, the Scottish author Gregory Smith, to describe the inherent contradictions or opposing forces in the Scottish psyche which he felt contributed to its dynamicism or genius. "The Caledonian Antisyzygy and the Gaelic Idea" is the manuscript of an earlier essay in which the author, writing as C. M. Grieve, explores the same themes. The earlier essay was published in two parts in The Modern Scot (1931-1932).


"The Genius of Scotland." Autograph manuscript, undated, 6 pp.

Writing as C. M. Grieve, the author appeals to Scottish poets for a name, with appropriate mythic resonance, to describe the genius of Scotland. His concluding hope that "the dynamic name for which we are seeking will spring to the lips of some unknown reader of the Evening News" would seem to indicate that it was originally written for in The Edinburgh Evening News to which Grieve contributed.


Speaking for Scotland, by Hugh MacDiarmid. Edinburgh: Lumphen Press, 1939.

This broadside printing of six of MacDiarmid's most overtly political poems bears the heading "Broadside No. 3, edited by Paul Potts (August 1939)," and was intended to be part of a series of broadside poems and political tracts to be sold on the streets of London. MacDiarmid alludes briefly to this project in the first volume of his autobiography Lucky Poet and claims that over 2,000 copies of the broadside were distributed; however, the onset of the war forced him to abandon further efforts. Only one of the poems printed in Speaking for Scotland was included in MacDiarmid's Collected Poems (1978), the short lyric "The Just Judge" which was collected under the title "A Judge Commits Suicide."


Hugh MacDiarmid to Paul Potts, autograph letter signed, January 20, 1964, 1 p.

This letter from MacDiarmid to Paul Potts, written twenty-five years after their short-lived collaboration, is a response to Potts's query concerning Civil List Pensions, one of which MacDiarmid had been awarded in 1950.


The Islands of Scotland: Hebrides, Orkneys, and Shetlands, by Hugh MacDiarmid. London: B.T. Batsford [1939].

MacDiarmid accepted this extended prose assignment primarily as a means of generating some much needed income. His stark, realistic portrait of the islands was not well received and the book was later superseded in Batsford's travel series. The Islands of Scotland also contains the first publication of a number of MacDiarmid's poems interspersed throughout the text.


Lucky Poet: A Self-Study in Literature and Political Ideas Being the Autobiography of Hugh MacDiarmid (Christopher Murray Grieve). London: Methuen & Co. [1943].

Although Lucky Poet purports to be the first volume of MacDiarmid's autobiography, the book's theme remains much truer to its subtitle. It is a highly polemical work in which MacDiarmid reconstructs his literary and political influences and hammers away at any and all individuals with whom he came in conflict or disagreed. The book contains a bewildering array of long philosophic and poetic passages by the author and others. Of particular importance, Lucky Poet includes lengthy excerpts from the long poems in English on which MacDiarmid had been working for many years, including Dýreadh, In Memoriam James Joyce, The Kind of Poetry I Want, and The Battle Continues.


Selected Poems of Hugh MacDiarmid, edited by R. Crombie Saunders. [Glasgow]: William Maclellan [1944].

A small selection of MacDiarmid's poetry published by MacDiarmid's friend, the Glasgow printer William Maclellan, who had begun to publish the work of contemporary Scottish poets. Selected Poems was MacDiarmid's first collection of poetry in nearly ten years.

Introduction | Essay | Section 1 | Section 3 | Section 4 | Section 5


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