Literary papers of Mary Ann Watterson (Treljah)

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

The contents consists of a book of poetry (including music letters and reminiscences), poems and stories such as Two Little Girls in Blue (written in America 1891), The Toffee Spree, The Road to the Poor House, The Glenrushen Tailors, The Reward of Jealousy, A Belated Reunion, Susan's White Christmas, Tommy's Wife, The Purse of Gold, Hop tu Nay and Duchess of Gloster (Gloucester).

Play script items include Uncle Joseph, The Press Gang, A Friendly Game, Mrs Sayle's Lodger, The Luck of the Fairies, The News, Where's Henry?, In a Jerrood, The Night of Mary, Peel Castle, Under the Clay Floor, The Oie’l Verrey, Aunt Ann's Christmas Cake, Daa's Birthday and Fud-y-Cheilley (A Farce).

Also present are Ismael, a typed manuscript recounting Quirk family history, additional family reminiscences such as Life on a Manx farm in Grandfather's Time and documentation relating to the Clucas family (of Kionshlieu) and their connections with other Manx families (for example, Leece of Ballaleece, Cosnahan of Ballacosnahan, Clucas of Ballanicholas, Stephenson of Bawshan and Fayle of Bawshan).

A story (and poem) of a vessel called The Schooner Vixen, which sailed from Peel to Melbourne, Australia, in 1853, A Brief History of the Airey (with hymn and carol) and a story (with a Manx song) called Mylcharane are part of this deposit. So too are a brief history on Lord Nelson (1758-1805) and his connection with the Isle of Man, material relating to Manx history (the Three Legs of Man, Illiam Dhone [1608-1663]), a newspaper report on the explosion of the vessel Lily in 1853 and a map of Castletown Bay and Derbyhaven.

Administrative / Biographical History

Mary Ann (Annie) Quirk (c.1875-1963) poet and author, was the daughter of William Quirk (c.1831-1900), a farmer and joiner and Martha Eleanor née Leece (c.1852-1929). The family owned land in Glen Maye called Treljah, a name which Mary used as her pseudonym for much of her writing. She also wrote as Ben Veg as well as under her married and maiden names. In 1892 the family emigrated to Fairmount City, Illinois where the musically talented Mary became the organist of the Lutheran Church from 1892 to 1895. By 1900 the family had returned to the Island, with Mary accepting the organist position at Methodist New Connection Church, Douglas. In October of that year Mary married James Collister Watterson (1877-1934), a green grocer; the couple had two sons.

Mary moved in literary circles and was a regular contributor to the Manx newspapers. She taught music, composed various melodies and was a close friend of Mary Louisa Wood (c.1839-1925), founder of the music competition the Manx Guild. Alongside music Mary also wrote stories, poems and Manx dialect plays. Her first Manx dialect play Pus O’ Goole (‘Purse of Gold’) was written in 1936 and in 1939 it won the Kissack Trophy for the Purt Iern Cushags in the Guild Drama Festival. In the 1950s Mary wrote booklets relating her family history and Manx inhabitants in by-gone days. Both topics were of great interest to Manx people and were circulated over the world. Mary died aged 89 in December 1963.

Conditions Governing Access

No regulations or restrictions are implemented on this material.

Advance notification of a research visit is advisable by emailing library@mnh.gov.im.

Archivist's Note

The biographical information was gathered from the Manx newspaper the Mona’s Herald (10 December 1963). The newspaper extract is held in Manx National Heritage Library & Archives (reference number: M 30554).

Fonds-level description created by Eleanor Williams (MNH Project Archivist), July 2016.