Papers of Robert Garioch Sutherland

Scope and Content

The collection consists of 30 letters from Robert Garioch Sutherland to Ian Fletcher, other correspondence, poems and a memoir of John Gawsworth [T.I.F. Armstrong]

Administrative / Biographical History

Robert Garioch Sutherland, who wrote under the name of Robert Garioch, was born in Edinburgh in May 1909, the son of a house painter, and educated at the Royal High School and Edinburgh University. As a boy he spoke Scots in the streets with his friends and in his work he combined this experience with a scholarly awareness of older models, the 'makers' of the 15th century and the 18th century poet Robert Fergusson.

Garioch began his life as a poet in Edinburgh in the 1930s and in 1940 collaborated with Sorley Maclean to produce 17 poems for 6d. In 1941 he was conscripted into the Royal Corps of Signals and married Margaret (Peg) Lillie in early 1942 before being sent abroad. He served in the North African campaign, was captured and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner in Italy and Germany. On his return Sutherland worked as a school teacher in London and Hayes, Kent, eventually returning to Edinburgh in 1959 and retiring in 1964, while his alter ego Garioch continued to develop as a poet. As well as writing comic and satirical verse he also translated the Latin of George Buchanan and the demotic Italian of Giuseppe Belli into Scots.

After his retirement Garioch was able to participate fully in the literary life of Edinburgh. He was in demand for poetry readings and served, with his fellow poet Edwin Morgan, as literary adviser to the cultural review Scottish International. From 1971-1973 he was writer in residence at the University of Edinburgh, where he did much to encourage young writers, and was also employed as what he described as a 'lexicographer's orraman', an odd-job man, on the Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue. As a poet he never retired and was travelling to give readings until just before his death, in April 1981, at the age of 71.

Access Information

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Acquisition Information

Gift of Ian Fletcher


This description was compiled by Gil Skidmore

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