Papers of Professor John Stuart Blackie (1809-1895)

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 237 Coll-305
  • Dates of Creation
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      8 volumes, circa 23 letters, 1 poem in manuscript, 8 printed items with signature, 1 photograph.
  • Location
      Gen. 1927/10; Gen.1733/71-72, 100; Gen. 1730 Blackie; Gen. 1429/10/6; Gen. 756, no. 47; Dc.1.101/7; Dc.2.58; Dc.2.76/5, 14 f.1; Dc.4.101 Blackie; Dc.4.102; Dk.5.40-41; Dk.6.19/4; E89.73; E98.36; E98.47; E98.55; E2006.06

Scope and Content

The papers of Professor John Stuart Blackie consist largely of manuscript correspondence, mostly letters and at least one postcard, among them a letter to his publisher at Gen. 1733/100, a letter to the Aesthetic Club at Dc.2.58, a letter to Gibson at the Royal Society of Edinburgh at Dk.6.19/4, a letter denouncing English schoolmasters at Gen.1733/71, a letter about a dinner in honour of Faed, at Gen. 1730/1 Blackie, a letter to Sir C. J. Pearson at Gen. 756, no. 47, a letter with Blackie's favourite Greek motto at Gen. 1429/10/16, and a letter about Scottish music. Some letters are undated and it is uncertain to whom some of the correspondence is addressed. There are printed poems at Dc.4.101-103, and letters to several individuals between 1849 and 1887 at E89.73, E98.36, E98.47, and E98.55.

In addition there is a letter from Blackie to his nephew, possibly William Walker, a postcard to William Walker from his mother, and a copy of the Walker and Blackie family-tree at E2006.06.

Administrative / Biographical History

John Stuart Blackie was born in Glasgow in 1809. He was educated at Aberdeen and Edinburgh Universities and also in Göttingen, Berlin and Rome, studying first Arts and then Divinity. He then turned towards the study of Law and was called to the Scottish Bar in 1834. An interest in the classics and literature brought about another change in direction and in 1841 Blackie became Professor of Humanity at Marischall College (Aberdeen University). He held this post until 1852 when he was appointed Professor of Greek at Edinburgh University. Blackie published a lot of material on philosophy, history and legal subjects and he translated Faust in 1834. He wrote much on Hellenic subjects too including translations of Aeschylus (1850), the Iliad (1866), and the Songs and legends of Ancient Greece. He was interested in the reform of Scottish universities and he was a keen promoter of Scottish nationality raising funds for the establishment of a Chair in Celtic. Professor John Stuart Blackie resigned his Professorship at Edinburgh in 1882, and died in 1895.

Access Information

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

Acquisition Information

Letter to publisher purchased January 1986, Accession no. E86.8. Undated letter at Gen. 1730/1 Blackie, received 1974, Accession no. E74.13. Letter denouncing English schoolmasters purchased October 1984, Accession no. E84.37. Letters to Geikie transferred from Dept. of Geology December 1960, Accession no. E60.33. Letter about dinner in honour of Faed purchased March 1975, Accession no. E75.17. Letter to Pearson received 1964, Accession no. E64.39. Letter with motto, part of purchase January 1970, Accession no. E70.2. Letter about Scottish music purchased October 1984, Accession no. E84.38. Other letters: purchased October 1989, Accession no. E89.73; purchased June 1998, Accession no. E98.36; purchased July 1998, Accession no. E98.47; and, purchased August 1998, Accession no. E98.55. Letter from Blackie to nephew, and related material acquired March 2006, Accession no. E2006.06.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Thorne, J. O. and Collocott, T. C. (eds.). Chambers biographical dictionary. Revised ed. with supp. Repr. Edinburgh: W. and R. Chambers, 1982. (2) Rice, D. Talbot (comp.). The university portraits. pp.17-18. Edinburgh: University Press, 1957.

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.

Related Material

The local Indexes show other references to Blackie related material (check the Indexes for more details): letters of Blackie to Sir Archibald Geikie (1835-1924), 1880-82, at Gen. 524; letters to Blackie at Gen. 1733/66, 80, 143 and at Dc.76/14 f.2 f.4-5 f.7 and at Dk.7.38/5/3; a mention of Blackie in a letter at Dc.4.101-103, and at Dc.4.102 and at Gen. 2169/29; a testimonial in favour of J. H. Stirling, 1868, at Dc.4.104/3 ff.43-44; a coloured caricature at Df.1.33/14; a translation of verse at Dc.10.50/14; annotated copy of Greek-English lexicon at Dk.7.13-14; and material at Bl. Coll. (being the Blackie Collection). There is also material in the Laing Collection. In addition, the UK National Register of Archives (NRA), updated by the Historical Manuscripts Commission, notes: correspondence and papers, National Library of Scotland, Manuscripts Division, Ref. MSS 2621-64, and also correspondence with Blackwoods, 1833-1895, Ref. MSS 4035-4711 passim., letters (11) to John Hill Burton, 1840-1876, Ref. MSS.9392-9400, letters (16) relating to his publications, c.1875-1877, see Accessions to repositories 1981, correspondence with Henry Drummond, Ref. Acc 5890 NRA 27275 Drummond, letters (15) to Alexander Campbell Fraser, 1851-1895, Ref. Dep 208 NRA 27273 Fraser, letters, including several to Charles Gray, 1886-1891, Ref. MSS.10279 ff.162-70; 10291 f.193; 10306 f.134, letters to Alan Reid, 1888-1890, Ref. MSS 3662, 3664, correspondence with Lord Rosebery, 1875-1886, Ref. MSS.10074-10085, miscellaneous correspondence including Sir Patrick Geddes, 1846-1894, Ref. MSS 9657-9819, 9994-11000 Passim; correspondence with Lord Wemyss, c.1860, Private, Ref. NRA(S)0208 NRA 10743 Charteris; correspondence with G. Finlay, 1855-1866, British School at Athens, NRA 21070 Finlay; correspondence with Mary Gladstone, c.1880-1884, British Library, Manuscript Collections, Ref. Add MS 46251, and correspondence with W.E. Gladstone, 1862-1894, Ref. Add MS 44107; letters to Macmillan & Co, 1870-1889, Reading University Library, Ref. MS1098 boxes 201-3, 208, see Location Register of English Literary MSS 18-19th cent 1995; and letters to Sir William Stirling-Maxwell, 1857-1875, Glasgow City Archives, Ref. T-SK 29.7-25 NRA 24669 Stirling.

Corporate Names