Papers of Edith Anne Stewart Robertson and James Alexander Robertson

Scope and Content

GB 231 MS 2794 Typescript of Edith Anne Robertson's Mair like a dream, a series of 4 radio broadcasts, read by Flora MacDonald Garry (1900 - 2000), on the BBC Scottish Home Service (later, Radio Four) in Feb 1966. The work, which was based on the recollections of a domestic servant from Fetterangus, Aberdeenshire, whom Edith Robertson had known whilst living in Aberdeen, is written in the Doric (Buchan dialect), and describes the farming life and people whom she knew during the period c 1860 - c 1880.

GB 231 MS 3406 Papers of James Alexander Robertson [JAR]Diary, 1908; personal correspondence 1916 - 1939; sermons, 1927 and n.d.; prayers, n.d.; papers on the New Testament, n.d.; notebooks and papers relating to preparation of sermons, lectures and other works, 1903 - 1916 and n.d.; unpublished works, Journal of a Tramp, 1903 and Whale Ashore, 1911; reviews of published works, 1917 - 1922; press-cuttings and other articles about JAR, 1921 - 1928 and n.d.; literary correspondence from colleagues and publishers, 1916 - 1926; papers re. JAR's retirement, 1945; obituaries and letters of condolence on JAR's death, 1955 - 1956; copies of published works by JAR, 1917 - 1929; miscellaneous newspaper articles, 1918 and n.d.

Papers of Edith Anne Stewart Robertson [EASR]Diaries, 1900 - 1969 (incomplete); photographs, 1871 - 1961 and n.d.; personal correspondence, 1898 - 1970; literary papers, mostly n.d., and including typed manuscripts of Carmen Jesu, Collected Ballads and Poems in the Scots Tongue, Translations into the Scots Tongue of Poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins, Forest Voices, A Company of Angels, The Defence of Lady Jonet Douglas, Scots version of Macbeth, Lady Jonet Douglas, The Merry Prodigal, Where's Isa, Xavier in Paris - A Historical Narrative, The First Good Friday, The Cheerful Supper at the Crossroads, A Tale of One City - as contained in an Imaginary Journal of James V of Scotland, Hilary's End, The Waterspout, 100 Years Ago in Buchan, and review of Waiting for Godot; notebooks, 1917 - 1922 and n.d., containing literary and miscellaneous notes; correspondence re. literary works, 1906 - 1970; newspaper cuttings, 1911 - 1973, mostly reviews of EASR's published works; copies of published works, including Pilgrimage and Battle (London: Headley Bros., 1916), The Life of Francis Xavier - Evangelist and Explorer (London: Headley Bros., 1917), Poems: second book (London: Swarthmore Press, 1919), Francis Xavier - King Errant of the Cross, 1506 - 1552 (London: Student Christian Movement Press, 1930), The Far Adventure (Edinburgh: Church of Scotland Foreign Mission Committee, 1930), He is Become My Song: Carmen Jesu Nazereni (London: J. Clarke, 1930), Poems frae the Suddron o Walter de La Mare made ower intil Scots (Edinburgh: Macdonald, 1955), Collected Ballads and Poems in the Scots Tongue (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University press, 1967), Translations into the Scots tongue of Poems by Gerard Manley Hopkins (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1968), The Forest Voices and other poems in English (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1969), and sundry poems, articles, essays and short stories published in newspapers and journals; papers of other writers, comprising typescript sheet of Charles Grave's Life and Death, n.d., and typescript and proof copies of poems by Flora M. Garry, 1951 - 1963; newspaper cuttings, 1944 - 1970, mostly referring to literary works or persons; and miscellaneous memorabilia and notes, 1952 - 1970.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Alexander Robertson, son of Rev. Alexander Robertson, Free Church minister, was born in Ardersier in 1880. He attended school in Inverness and took his first degree in Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen, graduating MA, 1902. He went on to study Divinity at the United Free Church College in Glasgow, and subsequently became a minister of the United Free Church. After holding several charges at Glenlyon, Forfar, Edinburgh and Ballater, in 1920 he was appointed Professor of New Testament Language, Literature and Theology at the United Free Church College in Aberdeen (later, Christ's College, Church of Scotland). In 1938 he became Professor of Biblical Criticism at the University of Aberdeen, where he remained until ill health forced his retirement in 1945.

James Robertson wrote several scholarly works on the New Testament, which were well received by reviewer and colleagues alike. The best known of these are The Hidden Romance of the New Testament (1920) and The Spiritual Pilgrimage of Jesus (1917). He was, by all accounts, a powerful and erudite preacher, and this collection contains a number of his prayers.

Edith Anne Stewart was born in Glasgow in 1883, the daughter of a United Free Church minister. The family later moved to Germany and latterly Surrey, England. Edith married James Alexander Robertson in 1919. After their marriage the Robertsons moved to northeast Scotland, where James was to take up his position as Professor of New Testament Language, Literature and Theology at the United Free Church College in Aberdeen. It was in this area that Edith was to spend much of her ensuing life, and which also provided the inspiration for many of her later pieces in Scots.

Edith Robertson's work reflects, in the main, her commitment to the church and the Christian faith, as well as her interest in the language and culture of the North East. Amongst her earliest published works are the Carmen Jesu Nazereni (1930), which is a translation of the Gospels into verse, and a biographical life of Francis Xavier. Her poems in Scots were published later, and include two interesting collections of poems by Walter de La Mare and Gerard Manley Hopkins which Edith had translated into Scots (Poems Frae the Suddron (1955), Translations into the Scots Tongue, etc (1968)). Her extensive correspondence shows that she had a wide and varied circle of friends, which included many writers and poets, among them, Marion Angus, David Daiches, Flora Garry, Nan Shepherd, and Douglas Young. The literary correspondence also contains a letter from Samuel Beckett, whose work Edith Robertson seems to have particularly admired. Edith outlived her husband by almost 20 years.


GB 231 MS 2794: Single item

GB 231 MS 3406: The collection has been divided into 2 sections, section 1 (GB 231 MS 3406/ 1) being the papers of JAR, and section 2 (GB 231 MS 3406/ 2) the papers of EASR. Within each section the papers are arranged by series, as described above (correspondence, literary papers, published works, etc.). Listing of the collection is not yet complete.

Access Information

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

Acquisition Information

GB 231 MS 2794 gifted to the University in Jun 1992 by Edith Robertson's daughter, Beryl Jenette Burns, of Glasgow

GB 231 MS 3406 deposited in June 1993 by Edith Robertson's son-in-law, Donald A. Parry.

Other Finding Aids

Interim list for GB 231 MS 3406 available in the Reading Room, Special Libraries and Archives.

Very brief collection level descriptions for both deposits 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

Taped interview with Mrs Flora MacDonald Garry (1900 - 2000), recorded in Jan 1986 for the University's Oral History project (instigated as part of the University's Quincentenary celebrations) (GB 231 MS 3620/1/41). Further details about the University's Oral History project available on the Historic Collections' home page


GB 231 MS 2794 and GB 231 MS 3406 contain manuscript and typescript copies of several published and un-published works of JAR and EASR. For details see Scope and Content section of this collection level description.

Additional Information

This material is original