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Edinburgh Sketches and Memories
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By Masson, David
ISBN 1849210683
SERIES Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe Collection
Paperback  448 pages
 
Published 7 January 2011
UK Price £18.95   Order from amazon.co.uk
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This collection, first published in 1892, features as a volume in this reprint series of the works and times of Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe (1781-1851) in order to give a flavour of Edinburgh literary society during the 1880s and 1890s when CKS's studies, letters and collecting were being discussed and appraised. The author and editor is the writer and historian David Masson (1822-1907), a friend and admirer of Thomas Carlyle, past editor of Macmillan's Magazine and, at the time of this work, Professor of English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. The Charles Kirkpatrick Sharpe chapter itself is a review, from the Scots Observer of November 1888, on the publication of the Letters of this man of 'strange and mixed' reputation. The other chapters of 'sketches and memories' cover: An imagining of the buildings, people and atmosphere of the Edinburgh to which Mary Queen of Scots returned in 1561, drawing on the writings of Sir Walter Scott, and the poets David Lindsay and William Dunbar. An 1867 essay on the beginnings, from 1582, of the University of Edinburgh and the role of its first Principal, Robert Rollock. King James' farewell to Holyrood in 1603; how news of the death of Queen Elizabeth I was carried to Edinburgh by Robert Cary, and its impact. Reflections from the Westminster Review of 1856 on Edinburgh politics and society in the years of the 'Dundas Despotism', especially between 1783 and 1806. Rich insights into Thomas Carlyle's (1795-1881) 'Edinburgh Life', at various periods between 1809 and 1828, as described in articles of 1881/1882 in Macmillan's Magazine. There are memoirs celebrating the lives of the historian John Hill Burton (1809-1881), with a review of The Book-Hunter; the poet William Drummond of Hawthornden (1585-1649); the man of letters, Dr John Brown; and an address, from 1890, on the last years of Sir Walter Scott. Lectures feature, from 1883, on the literary career of Allan Ramsay (1686-1758), wig-maker, book-seller, poet and editor of Scottish vernacular literature; and on the importance of the Scottish ballads written by two women, Lady Elizabeth Wardlaw (1677-1727), whose Hardyknute inspired the young Walter Scott, and Carolina Oliphant (1766-1845). The collection ends with a paper of 1889 presenting a 'General Review' of the Literary History of Edinburgh and a rallying cry for the future of the book trade in the city.

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