Scholarly Edition of Scottish Scene
Scottish Scene was first published by Jarrolds in 1934. Widely reviewed at the time, it quickly became one of the most controversial texts of the Scottish literary renaissance of the early decades of the twentieth century. J. M. Bulloch in The Sunday Times (3 June 1934) called its authors ‘Two Playboys of the Northern World’ – a reference to J. M. Synge’s play, The Playboy of the Western World, and its subversive impact on Irish life and letters. Those authors, Hugh MacDiarmid and Lewis Grassic Gibbon, were central to the ‘renaissance’ in its own time and remain of canonical importance in Scottish literature now, as well as becoming more widely known in recent decades as important international modernists. Scottish Scene’s puncturing of the complacencies of bourgeois Scotland in the 1930s ensures it remains a key text in the tradition. Yet, although it was republished by Hutchinson in the 1930s and Cedric Chivers in 1974, it has been out of print since (– the Gibbon material appears in Smeddum: A Lewis Grassic Gibbon Anthology, edited by Valentina Bold and published by Canongate in 2001). While MacDiarmid is best known as a poet and Gibbon as a novelist, Scottish Scene illustrates the range of their respective literary talents, with several genres of writing on display, including poems, essays, plays, sketches, and short stories. The book’s highlights – such as Gibbon’s electrifying sketch ‘Glasgow’ – are among the most important writings in modern Scottish literature and the text is also important for the questions it raises around the direction of Scottish literature and the Scots language – questions that remain pertinent today. A new edition will update understanding of the book’s authors, the ‘renaissance’, and the Scotland of their era. It may also find something of a general audience, especially in Scotland. This edition will be published by Association for Scottish Literature in their Annual Volume series; it is likely to be published in 2026.

The original Jarrolds edition, on which this edition will be based, is 348 pages. It has no illustrations; however, I am keen to reproduce the original cover drawing. I will provide a contextual introduction and notes.

I have the blessing of both Estates: Dorian Grieve for MacDiarmid, and Dr William K. Malcolm and Professor Ian Campbell, who are the literary executors of the Mitchell Estate. Gibbon’s material is out of copyright. I have contacted Carcanet over MacDiarmid’s material and was asked by Michael Schmidt, the managing director, for details of the MacDiarmid poems in the volume, but he said Carcanet would not obstruct publication.

The original text needs to be scanned and cleaned up before editing begins. This bid to the RSE for a Small Research Grant will pay for research assistance to scan and clean the text, as well as my own research trip costs.

Scan of Text:
Scan (OCR): Content Capture Services estimate = £500

Research Assistance:
RF (grade 5.29) £28.50/hour.
RF: formatting and proofreading scanned text – 348 pages, estimate on average 15 minutes per page = 5,220 minutes or 87 hours for the whole text = £2500

Research and Consultation
1. Trip to the Lewis Grassic Gibbon Centre in Arbuthnott to consult staff and holding:
Edinburgh to Laurencekirk: train (return) = £40.40
Laurencekirk to Arbuthnott: taxi (return) = £10x2 = £20
Total = £60.40
2. Trip to University of Aberdeen to consult archival material:
a) Lewis Grassic Gibbon, journalist and author: personal correspondence and related papers of John Buchan, J .M. Bulloch and others, and an account by Jean Baxter - MS 2377
Edinburgh to Aberdeen: train (return) = £41
3. Consulting materials on Hugh MacDiarmid and Lewis Grassic Gibbon in National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh – no cost.
4. Consulting Ian Campbell’s book collection, Edinburgh – no cost.

Total = £3102

  • Start Date:

    1 June 2023

  • End Date:

    31 May 2024

  • Activity Type:

    Externally Funded Research

  • Funder:

    Royal Society of Edinburgh

  • Value:


Project Team