Joseph Johnston Lee

Scope and Content

The collection includes:

  • Journals kept by Joseph Lee while a prisoner of war in Germany, 1916 1918 and in later years when a journalist in London, which includes sketches, photographs and miscellanea; also includes sketches of figures drawn by Lee at the Slade School of Art, 1898 1948
  • Local magazines edited by Lee, 1907-1913
  • Miscellaneous papers and correspondence relating to poetry, including correspondence with Robert Bridges, 1914-1948
  • Correspondence relating to his period of captivity in Karlsruhe Prisoner-of-War camp, 1917-1918
  • Miscellaneous correspondence, 1913-1919
  • Photographs, 1914-1948
  • Poems and papers relating to William C. Keay, c 1911-1912
  • Miscellaneous material compiled by Lee’s niece, c 1914 – 2007
  • Material relating to Dorothy Lee (née Barrie), 1912-c 1950

Administrative / Biographical History

Joseph Johnston Lee was a journalist, poet and artist, best known for his war poetry. Born in Dundee in 1876, He was the grandson of Sergeant David Lee, a veteran of the Napoleonic Wars. At the age of 14 Joseph Lee left school and began work in the office of a local solicitor. He found this work to be dull and eventually took a job as a steamship’s stoker, making a number of sketches during his voyages. In 1904 he was employed as an artist in London drawing cartoons for the Tariff Reform League, and subsequently becoming a newspaper artist. In 1906 He returned to Dundee and started to produce edit and write for several local periodicals including The City Echo and The Piper O’ Dundee. In 1909 he became a member of staff at the firm of John Leng & Co. and was soon regularly contributing poetry to their People’s Journal, a publication which he eventually edited.

In 1914 he joined the 4th Battalion of the Black Watch. Two books of his war poems and sketches, Ballads of Battle and Work-a-Day Warriors were published while he was at the Front. In 1917 he became second lieutenant in the 10th Battalion of the King’s Royal Rifle Corps and later that year he was captured near Cambrai. His experiences while a prisoner in camps at Karlsruhe and Beeskow are described in his book A Captive at Carlsruhe.

In 1924 Lee married Miss Dorothy Barrie, a well-known viola player. The couple went to Epsom and Lee became sub-editor on the News Chronicle. After his retirement in 1944 he returned to Dundee, where he died in 1949. Lee’s other published works include poems, Tales O’ Our Town, and a short play Fra Lippo Lippi.


Records are arranged chronologically within series.

Access Information

Open for consultation subject to preservation requirements. Access must also conform to the restrictions of the Data Protection Act and any other appropriate legislation.

Acquisition Information

The records were deposited by Joseph Lee's niece between 1983 and 2007 (AccM/191, AccM/255, AccM/269, AccM/281, Acc 2007/279).

Other Finding Aids

Descriptive list. Subject source lists and databases are also available.

Alternative Form Available

No known copies.

Physical Characteristics and/or Technical Requirements

The records are on paper and include photographs.

Archivist's Note

Fonds level description compiled by Sarah Chubb, Archives Hub Project Archivist, January 2002.

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction is available subject to preservation requirements. Charges are made for this service, and copyright and other restrictions may apply.


None expected.

Related Material

A notebook containing manuscripts of Work-a- day Warriors (1916) and a description by Lee of the Black Watch in the trenches (1915) is held by the Local Studies section of the Central Library, Dundee.

Location of Originals

The material is original.