Collection of Poems by William Soutar (1898-1943)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-796
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      1 bound file (with 4 bundles, 4 signed poems, 1 letter, newspaper cuttings). Access to records in a fragile condition may be restricted.
  • Location
      Gen 2005

Scope and Content

The collection is composed of: four bundles of poems, each simply bound, with titles Conflict, Earth, Quest, and Epigrams; 4 separate signed poems; 1 letter to William Morrison, editor of The Scots Observer submitting the typescript of some poems, 1934; and, six news cuttings giving a background to his life and poetry.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Soutar was born on 28 April 1898. He was the son of John Soutar, a Perth joiner and contractor. He was educated at the Southern District School and at Perth Academy. From 1916 he served in the navy and was demobilised in 1919. Soutar then went to Edinburgh University and graduated in 1923 and it was during this period that his poetry emerged, his first collection being Gleanings by an undergraduate (1923). Soutar 'invented' the 'whigmaleerie', a poetical 'whim, a fantastical notion'. He was crippled during his life with spondylitis and was bedridden by 1930. William Soutar died of tubercolosis in Perth on 15 October 1943.

Access Information

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Acquisition Information

Material purchased from Updike, 1976, Accession no. E76.33.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using material contained in the collection and with: (1) Keay, John. and Keay, Julia (eds.). Collins encyclopaedia of Scotland. London: Harper Collins, 1994.

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections Division.

Other Finding Aids

Important finding aids generally are: the alphabetical Index to Manuscripts held at Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections and Archives, consisting of typed slips in sheaf binders and to which additions were made until 1987; and the Index to Accessions Since 1987.


Check the local Indexes for details of any additions.

Related Material

The local Indexes show various references to Soutar related material (check the Indexes for more details): letter to H. B. Cruickshank about C. M. Grieve's stay in hospital in Perth, 1935, mentioned in a letter of Valda Grieve, 1935, in Gen. 886, ff.35 and 32; the Collected poems of William Soutar by Hugh MacDiarmid mentioned in a letter of C. M. Grieve to H. B. Cruickshank, 1945, in Gen. 886, f.94-95; postcard from Soutar to Cruickshank about Lewis Grassic Gibbon's death, 1935, in Gen. 1929/11; and. death of Soutar mentioned in a letter of Grieve to R. Crombie Saunders, 1943, in Gen. 2001/14. In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes material at the National Library of Scotland, Manuscript Collections.