Unique autograph manuscript of A drunk man looks at the thistle, by Hugh MacDiarmid, together with other literary papers and some letters

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 206 Brotherton Collection MS 20c MacDiarmid
  • Dates of Creation
      ca. 1925-1960
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      2 vols and 1 envelope, all held in 1 box; manuscript, typescript, a photograph, and printed material. The autograph manuscript is written in a volume containing 92 numbered folios and 5 letters each mounted on the remaining folios, the volume being finely bound in blue crushed morocco with compartments on the spine and gilt lettering as follows: 'A/ drunk man/ looks/ at the/ thistle/ Hugh/ MacDiarmid'. There is blue marbling on both inside covers and endpapers. It is held in a custom-made slip-case covered in blue cloth. The galley proofs of the Voice of Scotland are held in a thin custom-made case with three folding cardboard flaps, all blue with blue marbling on all their sides, the case being covered in blue cloth and bearing on its spine gilt lettering as follows: 'The Voice of Scotland Corrected proofs Vol.IX No.3 edited by Hugh MacDiarmid'.

Scope and Content

Comprises: (1) Autograph manuscript of MacDiarmid's poem 'A drunk man looks at the thistle, including title with epigraph, dedication, and foreword, with, also pasted in, a photograph by Benno Schotz of his bronze head of the author, 1960, 4 autograph manuscript letters from the author to Mrs D.U. McGrigor Phillips, dated 4-30 October 1960, concerning the acquisition of the manuscript, and the author's certificate sent with the first letter and stating that the manuscript is now the only extant autograph copy, the other copy having been soiled by the printers and destroyed; probably therefore it is to be dated not later than 1925; (2) 6 galley proofs of an issue of MacDiarmid's periodical Voice of Scotland, with many autograph corrections and revisions, and accompanied in the same custom-made case by 3 letters exchanged between the printers in Edinburgh and MacDiarmid (here signed as 'C.M. Grieve') dated 10 November 1958 - 8 January 1959 and concerning editorial and proofreading matters; (3) Autograph typescript of MacDiarmid's poem 'The Chinese genius wakes up', extending to 4 ff., and possibly to be dated ca. 1958.

Administrative / Biographical History

Christopher Murray Grieve (1892-1978), the Scots poet and prose writer, who used the pseudonym Hugh MacDiarmid. He wrote his poem A drunk man looks at the thistle in 1926. For fuller details of his life and achievements see the Dictionary of National Biography.

Conditions Governing Access

Access is unrestricted.

Acquisition Information

Partly the gift of Mrs McGrigor Phillips, 20 December 1960, and partly purchased from K.D. Duval, 25 March 1964.


In English.