Papers of and relating to Annie S. Swan

Scope and Content

This small collection contains correspondence, typescript and other papers relating to The Letters of Annie S. Swan, ed. by Mildred Robertson Nicoll (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1945), c 1900 - 1946. It comprises correspondence between Mildred Robertson Nicoll and her publishers, Hodder and Stoughton, London; Alice Head, of George Newnes Limited, London; and Angus Watson, regarding editing, publishing and legal issues. A further series of correspondence from friends of Annie S. Swan contains reminiscences of their friendship with her, and is accompanied by original and typescript copies of her correspondence with them. Annotated, typescript drafts of chapters of The Letters of Annie S. Swan are contained in folders, some being accompanied by originals or copies of Annie S. Swan's correspondence.

A manuscript of Having a Good Time, in Annie Swan's handwriting, which was given by her daughter, Effie Burnett Smith, to Mildred Robertson Nicoll, when compiling The Letters of Annie S. Swan is also deposited here.

Administrative / Biographical History

Annie S. Swan Annie Shepherd Swan, daughter of Edward Swan, farmer and potato merchant, was born in Mountskip, near Edinburgh in 1859. She married James Burnett Smith in 1883, and in the early years of their marriage her writing supported him through medical school. She had begun contributing to local papers and writing children's books prior to this time, but received her first commercial success with the publication of Aldersyde in 1883. Set in a small community in the Scottish Borders, this laid the foundations for her subsequent success as a writer of light romantic fiction; by the end of her career she had published over 197 titles. She received her widest audience through serialisation of her novels in The People's Friend but was also a regular contributor to other magazines and periodicals. Departures from her normal style were achieved under the pseudonym, David Lyall, and her married name, Mrs Burnett Smith. Under the former, she wrote stories for the British Weekly, some of which, dealing with the Boer War, were thought at the time to have been written by a male war correspondent. Under her married name came The Pendulum (1926), a novel which dealt with the problems of post-World War One society, and introduced her readers (unwillingly) to the issues of infidelity and divorce, hitherto unseen in her writing. She lived in England for a number of years, but returned to Scotland after her husband's death in 1927, and died at Gullane on 17 Jun 1943. She was awarded a CBE in 1930

For further details see Who Was Who, 1941 - 1950; Annie S. Swan, My Life: an Autobiography (London: Nicholson and Watson, 1934), and The Letters of Annie S. Swan, ed. by Mildred Robertson Nicoll (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1945).

Mildred Robertson Nicoll Mildred Robertson Nicoll was born in 1898, the daughter of William Robertson Nicoll (1851 - 1923), editor of the British Weekly, and Catherine Pollard, author of Bells of Memory and Under the Bay Tree. She married Grange Inglis Kirkcaldy in 1920, and had three daughters, Rosemary Melville, Prudence Elizabeth Struan, and Pamela Janet Grange. Under her maiden name she was editor, with A.C. Harwood, of Anthroposophical Quarterly, 1956 - 1978. She also edited The Letters of Annie S. Swan (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1945); Family Post Bag (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1947); and R. Steiner, The Redemption of Thinking (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1956). She also wrote and published under her married name, Mildred Robertson Kirkcaldy.


None observed - listing in process

Access Information

Open, subject to signature accepting conditions of use at reader registration sheet

Acquisition Information

Deposited in the University in Jul 1996, by Mildred Robertson Nicoll's daughters, Prudence E.S. Kennard, Pamela Jackson and Rosemary Morrison. Additional deposit made in Jun 1997.

Other Finding Aids

Very brief collection level description available on Aberdeen University Library Catalogue, accessible online

Alternative Form Available

No copies known

Conditions Governing Use

Subject to the condition of the original, copies may be supplied for private research use only on receipt of a signed undertaking to comply with current copyright legislation.

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Head of Special Libraries and Archives (e-mail: and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. Where possible, assistance will be given in identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with normal procedures


No accruals expected

Related Material

Papers of William Robertson Nicoll and his family, Old Manse, Lumsden (GB 231 MS 3518)


The Letters of Annie S. Swan, ed. by Mildred Robertson Nicoll (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1945).

Additional Information

This material is original