The papers in the collection consist of: 15 letters to David Macrae and 3 poems The lost Eden found again, She has left the home of her own dear youth, and Sonnet, 1873-1875; letters to John Wilson, 1901-1905 including holograph manuscript of Cuddle doon; photograph; signed quotation from Heine, 1900; and, other correspondence, 1908, as well as letters 1892 and 1905 at E92.55 and E92.106.
Papers of Alexander Anderson (1845-1909)
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- ReferenceGB 237 Coll-280
- Dates of Creation1873-1908
- Name of Creator
- Language of MaterialEnglish.
- Physical Description1 volume, 6 letters.
- LocationDc.2.79; Dc.4.102; Gen. 1730/1 Anderson; Gen.1733/52-53; Gen. 1790, no. 1; E92.55; E92.106
Scope and Content
Administrative / Biographical History
The Scottish poet, Alexander Anderson, was born in Kirkconnel, a village by the River Nith, in Dumfriesshire, on 30 April 1845. He was educated at Crocketford, Kirkcudbrightshire, to where the family had moved when he was aged three. Later on, when he was sixteen, the family moved back to Kirkconnel. Anderson first started his working life at a quarry, then he became a surfaceman, or navvy, on the Glasgow and South-Western Railway. During the sixteen years he worked as a surfacemen he read and studied and taught himself French language and grammar, acquired a knowledge of German, Italian and Spanish, and wrote poetry. On his first appearance in print - in The People's Friend a Thomson title, in Dundee - he became recognised as a local poet. By the early-1880s, Anderson was in Edinburgh. He was Secretary to the Edinburgh Philosophical Institution, 1883-1886, and he was also Assistant Librarian at Edinburgh University, 1880-1883, and 1886-1905. His publications include A song of labour and other poems (1873), The two angels and other poems (1875), Songs of the rail (1878), and Ballads and sonnets (1899). Also, while still a surfaceman, he translated several of the poems of Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) from German. Anderson travelled widely in Scotland and many of his poems reflect this, with titles such as A Nithsdale idyll and The hills and burns at hame. Many of his Scottish poems were about child life, Cuddle doon, The bogie man, and The sand man. Alexander Anderson died on 11 July 1909. His Later poems were published in 1912 after his death.
Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.
Letters to John Wilson purchased Glasgow, 20 April 1983, Accession No. E83.26. and E83.27.
The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Cuthbertson, David. The life-history of Alexander Anderson ("Surfaceman"). Edinburgh: Privately printed by J. and J. Gray, 1929. (2) Who was who. A companion to Who's who ... 1897-1916. A. and C. Black: London, 1920.
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.