Library and Information Services, Royal Conservatoire of Scotland

Friday, 2 August 2013

The Songs of Scotland by Allan Cunningham

Allan Cunningham (7 December 1784 – 30 October 1842)*

Fraud, Forger and Poet

Although we ordered one of those cheap modern digital reprints of Allan Cunningham's Songs of Scotland, I didn't think it would matter much. After all, what matters is that we can read his introduction, as much as the poetry his once-famous anthology contains.

I didn't bargain on the cheap modern reprint containing only the introduction.  Ah, well!  You win some, you lose some.  Here's where to find it in the Whittaker Library at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.  (Catalogue entry.)

Cunningham was a bit of a fraud - he made up poems as well as including genuine old Scottish poems.  Still, although in the 1820s his peers thought he was a fraud, within a few years of his death, he was revered as a poet in his own right. 

The wording of his introduction shows us his poetic interpretation of the history of Scotland's poetry.  Interesting!

* Whilst we wouldn't recommend Wikipedia as a trusty source for an essay, the basic details of Cunningham's life and output are here for a start.

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