Special and Named Printed Collections in the National Library of Scotland

AITKEN COLLECTION

This collection of the works of Hugh MacDiarmid was formed by William Russell Aitken (1913-1998), former Reader in Librarianship at Strathclyde University, and a lifelong friend of the poet. He was also MacDiarmid's editor and literary agent. Aitken produced a comprehensive bibliography of the works of MacDiarmid, and edited, with Michael Grieve, the Complete Poems, published in 1978. MacDiarmid, whose real name was Christopher Murray Grieve, fought to revive Scots as a vigorous literary language, and in doing so became the foremost Scottish poet of the twentieth century. His major works such as A drunk man looks at the thistle have international importance in modern literature. The Aitken Collection contains some 125 items, particularly editions of MacDiarmid's poetry, many of them in their original dustjackets and inscribed by the poet to his friend. There is also a rare collection of photographs of the poet taken by Aitken, and a quantity of rare MacDiarmid ephemera, including posters, political manifestos and cards. Most of the books have been annotated by Aitken; he corrects mistakes and provides notes relating to the publication history of individual poems. Along with Aitken's manuscript collection, donated at the same time, this represents one of the fullest and most interesting sources for the study of MacDiarmid.

A complete list of the Aitken Collection (PDF: 8 pages) is available.

Shelfmark: Aitken.

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