Papers of Helen Burness Cruikshank, 1886-1975, poet

Scope and Content

Papers and files relating to Helen B Cruickshank's career including:

  • Correspondence from various persons 1931-1966
  • Notes based on correspondence with Lewis Grassic Gibbon (1901-1935), 1932-1935
  • Photographs, unfinished projects, lectures, articles; Correspondence re William Soutar (1898-1943) poet undated
  • Letters from Margaret Soutar 1944-1951
  • Letters 1933-1951
  • Press cuttings relating to William Soutar; Newspaper cuttings, Christmas cards, programmes and obituaries relating to Helen Cruickshank undated.

Administrative / Biographical History

Helen Burness Cruickshank (1886-1975 ), poet, was born near Hillside, Angus and educated at Montrose Academy. In 1903, having joined the Civil Service, she moved to London to take up a post with the Post Office. She became involved with the  Association of Women Clerks and Secretaries, which as part of the movement for Women's Suffrage was agitating for better pay for women. In  1912  she moved to Edinburgh to take up a post with the National Health Insurance Scheme. After the First World War she lived in Shandwick Place, Edinburgh and regularly mixed with artists and writers, including  Hugh MacDiarmid (1892-1978 ) and  William Soutar (1898-1943 ). In 1924 her father died and she gave up her hopes of being able to wed my penniless artist, and instead she went on to care for her mother for the next 40 years. However she continued to contribute to the Scottish Chapbook and Northern Numbers, and from  1927-1934  was secretary and a founder member of Scottish PEN (an international association of poets and novelists etc) where she offered encouragement to new talent. In  1934  her poems were published in Up the Noran Water. She continued to publish both in English and Scots, drawing on her Angus background, both prose poetry and blank verse with poems such as Keepit In, Beech Leaves, and At the End. In 1971 she was granted an Honorary MA from the  University of Edinburgh for her contribution to Scottish Literature. Although not a great poet herself, Hugh MacDairmid described her as a catalyst to the Scottish literary renaissance.


The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received

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Data about collection held on Stirling University Library web-based catalogue.

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Archivist's Note

Fonds level description compiled by H M Kemp and Alan Borthwick, Scottish Archive Network project, 10 May 2002.

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