Special Collections Department
Sydney Goodsir Smith Papers
1954 - 1960
Manuscript Collection Number: 226
Accessioned: Puchase 1972
Extent: 58 items (.4 linear ft.)
Content: Letters, typescripts, manuscripts, proofs, notes, exhibition catalogs
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: 1991 by Wendy van Wyck
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Table of Contents
Sydney Goodsir Smith was one of the most important authors of the twentieth-century Scottish Literary Renaissance. As a vital member of Edinburgh’s literary circle, Smith was known for his emotional love poetry and nationalistic concern for the cultural and political affairs of Scotland. Smith, however, was neither raised nor educated in Scotland. He was born in Wellington, New Zealand, on October 26, 1915 and attended preparatory school in England. After a brief stay at Edinburgh University in the early 1930s, he graduated from Oxford in 1937 with an M.A. in history. After graduation, Smith settled permanently in Edinburgh, drawn by its beauty and culture.
In the late 1930s, Smith began to write poetry using his own individualized version of the Scottish language. With the publication of The Deevils Waltz in 1946 and Carotia Cornucopius in 1947, Smith exhibited an increasing confidence in the innovative language of his poetry. His next books, Under the Eildon Tree (1948) and So Late into the Night: Fifty Lyrics, 1944- 1948 (1952), are collections of love poems which are considered Smith’s best. In the 1960s, Smith’s works grew increasingly nationalistic in tone. His play The Wallace (1960) celebrates the Scottish nation and mourns its cultural and political oppression. Similar themes are expressed in his poems The Vision of the Prodigal Son (1959) and Gowdsmith in Reekie (1954). Sydney Goodsir Smith died in Edinburgh on January 15, 1975.
Aitken, W.R. “Sydney Goodsir Smith, 1915-1975: A Checklist of His Books and Pamphlets.” In For Sydney Goodsir Smith, Loanhead: M. Macdonald, 1975. pp. 85-91
Sherry, Vincent B., Jr. (Ed.). Dictionary of Literary Biography. Volume 27. Poets of Great Britian and Ireland, 1945-1960. “Sydney Goodsir Smith” by David S. Robb. Detroit: Gale Research Co., 1984. pp. 340-346. Includes a critical bibliography.
The Sydney Goodsir Smith Papers date primarily from the late 1950s and early 1960s, an especially nationalist phase in Smith’s literary career. The collection contains several drafts and advance proofs of Smith’s play The Wallace and manuscripts of his long dramatic poems, Gowdsmith in Reekie and The Vision of the Prodigal Son. Also present are seventeen pieces of correspondence and the manuscripts of about twenty prose pieces, including essays, reviews, and scripts from radio talks.
I. Correspondence II. Material toward The Wallace, a play in five acts and five prologues III. Poetry IV. Prose V. Miscellaneous Manuscript Worksheets
Box -- Folder -- Contents
Series I. Correspondence All letters are to Sydney Goodsir Smith unless otherwise indicated. 1 F1 To Ian [?] from Sydney Goodsir Smith 1958 May 21 TLS 1p Notes on verso in Smith’s hand. Concerns Smith’s declining to write a critical review. From Christopher Murray Grieve (Hugh MacDiarmid) 1959 Jan 27 ALS 1p Notes on verso in Smith’s hand. Concerns Grieve’s declining an invitation because he has finished a tour and is preparing to go abroad. From Donald [?] 1959 Mar 10 ALS 1p Apology to Smith for having him write a script that was not used. From Ruthven Todd 1959 May 7 TLS 2pp Concerns Todd’s recent activities, including his love life, reading tour, preparations to become a U.S. citizen, and his book on Dylan Thomas. From B.H. Alexander 1959 Jul 8 TLS 1p Alexander informs Smith that he will be paid a reduced fee for a script that was never used. The script was for a radio talk on Kurt Wittig’s book. From Sir Tyrone Guthrie 1959 Jul 17 ALS 2pp Note: with envelope. Guthrie says he will not be available to direct The Wallace. From Michael Charlton 1959 Sep 16 ALS 4pp Concerns the state of affairs of Scottish art. F2 To the Editor of “The Spectator” from Sydney Goodsir Smith 1960 Jan 18 TLS 2pp With autograph corrections. Protesting David Craig’s review of “Honour’d Shade.” From Legman [?] 1960 Jan 21 TLS 2pp Notes on verso in Smith’s hand. Concerns Smith’s advice to Legman and Legman’s acquisition of a set of books belonging to James Barke. 1960 Feb 6 TLS 1p With autograph corrections and notes on verso in Smith’s hand. Protesting David Craig’s review of “Honour’d Shade.” To exebition [sic] officer from Sydney Goodsir Smith 1960 Mar 17 TNS 1p Smith accepts an invitation to “Films on Art.” From David Miklejohn 1960 Apr 14 ALS 1p Notes on verso in Smith’s hand. Miklejohn expresses outrage at English control of Scottish affairs. F3 From A.D. Fraser 1960 Aug 11 ALS 1p Request for Smith to write articles about the art exhibitions at The Edinburgh International Festival. From Leonard J. Paterson, Vice President of The Scottish Union of Students 1960 Aug 17 TLS 1p Notes on verso in Smith’s hand. Request for Smith to serve as a judge of student productions at the Edinburgh International Festival. From A.D. Fraser 1960 Aug 23 ALS 1p Notes on verso in Smith’s hand. Concerns critical notices of art exhibits. From Tom Gourdie (Secretary, Exhibitions Committee) 1960 Sep 11 ANS 1p Notes on verso in Smith’s hand. Invitation to an art exhibition at the Kirkaldy Art Gallery. From William Arrowsmith, English Editor of The Hudson Review n.d. TLS 1p Notification that books and poems sent by Smith have been received. F4 Autograph drafts of letters to various individuals from Sydney Goodsir Smith. 13pp Series II. Material toward The Wallace, a play in five acts and five prologues The Wallace was first broadcast as a radio play in 1959, and its first stage production was in the Assembly Hall during the Edinburgh International Festival, Aug-Sep 1960. It was published in book form in the same year by Oliver and Boyd. 1 F5 Early version, n.d. TS [carbon] 95pp (95 leaves) Contains Dramatis Personae and text, lightly revised in author’s hand. Pages 65, 72, 89, and 90 are in top copy typescript, apparently representing a revised version of the discarded material. This version differs from the published text. F6 Act I, n.d. TS, 23pp (23 leaves) Heavily revised in the author’s hand. F7 Act I, n.d. TS, 45pp (45 leaves) Lightly revised. Apparently a later version. F8 Prologues, n.d. TS, 7pp (7 leaves) Heavily revised and with autograph notes in the author’s hand. Includes “Note on Prologue” and prologues II-V. F9 Appendix, Two Songs, Three Songs, n.d. Appendix AMs, 8pp (3 leaves) “Appendix Three Songs and Postscriptum” written on cover. Two Songs TS, 1pp (1 leaf). Autograph revisions. Three Songs TS, 2pp (2 leaves) “To precede Postscriptum” written on top. Contains notes about where the songs should be inserted. Autograph revisions. F10 Postscriptum: Auctorial Note for Pedants, n.d. TS, 10pp (8 leaves) Heavily revised in author’s hand. Includes at least two versions and several duplicate pages. Miscellaneous typescript pages, n.d. F11 TS, 11pp (9 leaves) Heavily revised in the author’s hand. F12 TS, 10pp (8 leaves) Revised in author’s hand. F13 TS, 13pp (11 leaves) Includes six typescript carbon pages of insertions and one page from the radio play script. F14 Autograph notes, n.d. AMs, 13pp (7 leaves) Includes a list of corrections. F15 Advance Proof (First Gathering),  14pp (4 leaves) Published by Oliver & Boyd. Revised in the author’s hand. “Author’s marked set. Checked S.G.S.” is written on the first page. Series III. Poetry Consists of manuscripts and proof material relating to two long poems by Goodsir Smith. F16 Gowdsmith in Reekie, May 1954 TS, 19pp (19 leaves) Heavily revised in the author’s hand with many passages added and deleted. Typed signature at the end: “Quod S.G.S. makar. Embrotoun, May 1954.” F17 The Vision of the Prodigal Son, n.d. TS, 12pp (13 leaves) Contains many variants from the advance proof. Typed signature “Sydney Goodsir Smith” at the beginning. F18 The Vision of the Prodigal Son, Jan 25, 1959 Advance Proof, 21pp (7 leaves) Revised in the author’s hand and signed at the end “Embrotoun 25 Janiveer 1959.” The author provides a glossary of some 90 words on verso of sheet 6. Series IV. Prose Contains manuscripts of articles, reviews, essays, radio talks, announcements, etc. 1 F19 Festival Drama to Come (Essay), n.d. TS, 3pp (3 leaves) Title altered in manuscript to read “Festival Cinderella Tries Again.” Edited, but not in the author’s hand. Typed signature “by Sydney Goodsir Smith” after the title. F20 Knight of Cromartie (Newspaper Article), n.d. Galley Proofs, 3pp (3 leaves) Revised and added material in the author’s hand. F21 The Man Who Died Laughing (Radio Talk), n.d. AMs, 6pp (3 leaves) Autograph draft for a broadcast discussion with Robert Kemp concerning Sir Thomas Urquhart’s lesser- known works. F22 The Man Who Died Laughing (Article), n.d. TS, 41pp (41 leaves) Typescript draft of an article which was later reworked into dialog form for the broadcast discussion with Robert Kemp. Heavily revised in the author’s hand with a typed signature “Sydney Goodsir Smith 18 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh.” at end. F23 The Man Who Died Laughing (Radio Talk), n.d. TS, 29pp (29 leaves) BBC Script marked “R.K.” and “S.G.S.” for the broadcast discussion with Robert Kemp concerning Sir Thomas Urquhart and his lesser known works. F24 The Merry Muses of Caledonia, n.d. Announcement, TS, 1p (1 leaf) Draft of announcement for the Auk Society Edition of Burn’s The Merry Muses of Caledonia, of which Smith was an editor. Advance copy of Prospectus, 4pp (1 leaf) A further draft of Smith’s announcement is written on the last page. The Merry Muses of Caledonia (Galley Eleven), 1p (1 leaf) Contains Smith’s “Personal Preface,” revised in his hand. F25 Plan for Program of a Burn’s Night Supper, n.d. AMs, 6pp (2 leaves) “Intro by S.G.S.” written on first page. Contains an outline of the festivities (Hugh MacDiarmid to toast “The Immortal Memory” etc.). The Scottish Tradition in Literature (Review of Kurt Wittig’s book of the same title), n.d. 2 F26 TS, 11pp (11 leaves) Heavily revised. Wittig’s book was published in 1958. Apparently, Smith was to review the book on a radio program, but the review was never used. (See letter of 1959 July 8 from B.H. Alexander). F27 TS, 14p (14 leaves) “from Sydney Goodsir Smith, 18 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh 7.” typed at the beginning. F28 Sir David Lindsay and Sean O’Casey: Rebels in the Theatre (Essay), n.d. AMs, 3pp (2 leaves) Contains additional unrelated manuscript notes. TS, 8pp (8 leaves) Typed on half-sheets of paper and heavily revised. Unrelated manuscript notes on verso of page 6. An essay on “Chagall” appears on the verso of page 7. Typed signature “by Sydney Goodsir Smith” after the title. Sir Thomas Urquhart of Cromartie (Radio Talk), n.d. F29 AMs, 12pp (6 leaves) Notes for the radio talk. Titled “Urquhart.” F30 TS, 8pp (8 leaves) Typescript draft of a radio talk. “To George Bruce (Scott. Life & Lett.), BBC Abrdn, from Sydney Goodsir Smith” typed at the top of second page. Heavily revised. Typed signature “Sydney Goodsir Smith, 18 Royal Terrace, Edinburgh.” on last page. F31 TS [mimeo], 9pp (9 leaves) BBC duplicated Script for Smith’s talk on the first program of the Scottish Life and Letters Series, Wed. May 25, 10:10 pm. F32 Sir William Wallace, Guardian of Scotland (Article of Talk), [c. 1959] TS, 2pp (2 leaves) An introduction to The Wallace, mentioning the radio adaptation “you will hear on Monday night.” Typed signature “by Sydney Goodsir Smith” after the title. F33 Fragments of Typescript Articles, n.d. TS, 11pp (11 leaves) Includes reviews of works by Scottish painters, a fragment on Scottish nationalism, part of a review of a Saltire Classics edition of Barbeur’s “The Bruce,” an excerpt entitled “English Chronicler” and a fragment of an article entitled “John Jamieson D.D., Preserver of the Scots Language, 1759-1838.” Series V. Miscellaneous Manuscript Worksheets Rough drafts of reviews, announcements, and essays. Many are written on the backs of letters, envelopes, handouts, stenciled artist exhibition catalogs, etc. Subjects include articles on art exhibitions, the theatre, classics of Scottish Literature and Auk Society publications. 2 Rough drafts of reviews and essays on artists, exhibits and galleries, n.d. F34 AMs, 20pp (8 leaves) Some titles include “Modern Art Gallery,” “Scottish Painting,” etc. F35 AMs, 19pp (9 leaves) Includes articles on Scottish painters and painting. F36 Misc. material dealing with artists, exhibits and galleries 10pp (10 leaves) Includes several exhibition catalogs and press releases. F37 Rough drafts of reviews and articles on theatre and literature, n.d. AMs, 19pp (10 leaves) Some titles include “Scottish Nat. Theatre,” “Theatre-Scotland,” a piece on Stevenson’s Kidnapped and an article on his own play, The Wallace. F38 Misc. drafts of articles, reviews and other prose works -41 AMs, (46 leaves). Includes Smith’s essay “England on Scotland” and a manuscript copy of the same essay entitled “Now We Know,” in another hand. F42 Misc. notes and lists -43 AMs, (24 leaves)
Last modified: 01/19/11