Papers of James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd (1770-1835)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-363
  • Dates of Creation
      19th century
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      3 letters manuscript, 2 poems manuscript.
  • Location
      Dc.4.101-103 Hogg

Scope and Content

The Hogg material is composed of: a poem in 8 stanzas, 1831; a letter to Messrs. Oliver and Boyd about The mountain bard, 1820; a letter to 'My dear Blakie' with the poem When the kye come hame, 1824; letter to Sir John Hay, 1833; and, letter to Mr. Boyde.

Administrative / Biographical History

James Hogg was born in Ettrick, in the Scottish Borders, probably in November 1770. In his youth he was a shepherd at Willanslee and at Douglas Burn on the Yarrow, but he had aspirations of becoming a farmer. His earliest writing includes Donald McDonald (1800) and Scottish pastorals (1801). His first real earnings from his literary work and from a treatise on diseases in sheep were lost in a failed attempt to become a farmer in Dumfriesshire. In 1810 therefore, Hogg headed for Edinburgh. By 1815 he had established himself as a literary man, and he was granted the farm of Altrive by the Duke of Buccleuch which became his home. Hogg's ballads and tales include The mountain bard (1807), The shepherd's calendar (1829), The brownies of Bodsbeck (1818), and Winter evening tales (1820). Other work includes The spy (1810-1811), The poetic mirror (1816,) The surpassing adventures of Allan Gordon or The three perils of man (1822), Tales of the wars of Montrose or The three perils of woman (1823), and his famed The private memoirs and confessions of a justified sinner (1824). Hogg's work had been promoted by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) whom he first met in 1802, and he was also appreciated by Lord Byron (1788-1824). On his death on 21 November 1835, James Hogg - the Ettrick Shepherd - was a nationally recognised poet and song-writer.

Access Information

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

Acquisition Information

Letter to Oliver and Boyd, acquired September 1973, Accession no. E73.35. Letter to Boyde, acquired 1973, Accession no. E74.5.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Keay, John. and Keay, Julia (eds.). Collins encyclopaedia of Scotland. London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1994. (2) Stephen, Leslie. and Lee, Sidney (eds.). The dictionary of national biography. Vol. 9. Harris-Hovenden. London: Smith, Elder and Co., 1908.

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 Hogg related material in the Laing Collection (check the Indexes for more details): poem and letter, 1819 and 1821, at La.II.216; letter to W. Laidlaw, 1801, at La.III.584/13; mention in a letter of H. Boyd to A. Davenport, 1813, at La.II.646/53/2; mention in a letter from John Aitken to David Laing, 1819, La.IV.17; mention in a letter of George Chalmers to David Laing, 1819, La.IV.6/Chalmers/35; and, a copy of Mountain bard, 1873, La.IV.17. There is also a letter from the younger James Hogg, 1861, at La.II.646/122. In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: letters (24) to Oliver and Boyd, 1818-1834, National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, Ref. Dep 312 NRA 10785 Oliver & Boyd, and letters to Blackwoods, MSS of poems, 1811-1835, Ref. MSS 4001-4854 passim, and correspondence and papers, 1800-1833, see Catalogue of MSS vols 1-2, and miscellaneous poems and letters, Ref. MSS 9634, 10279, 20440, and correspondence, papers, poems, engraved portrait and material for a biography, 1814-1946, Ref. MSS 9610-9977, 10256-10999 Passim; correspondence and papers, Private, Ref. NRA(S)0112 1141 NRA 10167 Hog; letters from, Hornel Library, Ref. NRA(S)0118 NRA 10173 Hornel Library; correspondence and papers, Yale University Libraries, Beinecke Library; notebook and letters, London University Library, Ref. SL V 14 SL V 15; letters (9) to George Thomson, 1815-1823, British Library, Manuscript Collections, Ref. Add.MSS.35264-35265.