Skip to main content

Album and scrapbook collected by Jessie Aitken Wilson

Identifier: Coll-1504

Scope and Contents

The collection is composed of:

  1. 1 x book of photographic portraits containing portraits of Albrech Duerer, Charles Darwin, John Stuart Mill, Thomas Carlyle, George Sand, Matthew Arnold, and cardinal newman, and others. The album was given to Jessie Aitken Wilson by novelist Mrs. Oliphant and is inscribed, 'This Book was the gift of Mrs. Oliphant'.
  2. 1 x packet of (4) loose photographic portraits: Victor Hugo, Charles Dickens, Blackie, and Garibaldi
  3. 1 x packet of (5) loose photographic portraits: Goethe's study at Weimar, Goethe's father, Goethe's mother, the younger Goethe, and the elder Goethe
  4. 1 x packet of (1) loose photographic portrait: Lessing
  5. 1 x packet of (8) loose photographic portraits: Aasen, Lie, Bjornsen, Ibsen, Garborg, Brandes, Kjelland, Asbjornsen
  6. 1 x scrapbook of press clippings and addresses related to George Wilson


  • Creation: 1850-1870


Language of Materials


Conditions Governing Access

Generally open for consultation to bona fide researchers, but please contact repository for details in advance.

Biographical / Historical

Jessie Aitken Wilson was the sister and secretary of physician, chemist, and Regius Professor of Technology, George Wilson (1818-1859), who was also the first Director of the Industrial Museum of Scotland. Both were siblings of the anthropologist Sir Daniel Wilson (1816-1892). Another Wilson sister, Jeannie Wilson, married Frank Oliphant, the brother of the novelist Mrs. Oliphant (1828-1897). Archibald Wilson (1784–1843), a wine merchant from Argyll, and his wife, Janet Aitken, were the parents of Daniel, George (and a dead twin brother), Jeannie, and Jessie.

On 6 October 1865, in her mid-life, Jessie Aitken Wilson married the much younger writer, James Sime (1843-1895). Their daughter would become the novelist Jessie Georgina Sime (1868-1958).

In 1866, having given up the idea of entering the ministry, James Sime went to Germany, to study German literature and philosophy, first at Heidelberg University, and afterwards at Berlin. During his stay in Germany he collected materials for his Life of Lessing, and he visited most of the places connected with his hero and with Goethe and Schiller. On his return from Germany he settled in Notting Hill, London, in 1869, and began journalism. In 1871 he joined the staff of the Edinburgh Academy but, finding the work uncongenial, resigned and returned to London in 1873 to write. Both his wife, Jessie Aitken Wilson Sime, and his daughter, Jessie Georgina Sime, survived him.

Jessie Georgina Sime moved to Montreal in 1907 and soon became involved in the city's literary and intellectual community. In her fiction and non-fiction, Sime was an early modernist and realist, and directed her attention to the social, economic, and emotional difficulties of working-class women and the urban poor. Her fiction includes Sister woman (1919) and Our little life: a novel of today (1921) the latter of which was reprinted in 1994 with an introduction by K. Jane Watt.

Frank Nicholson, Edinburgh University Librarian and a long-time friend and writing partner of Jessie Georgina Sime, and eventually too, his widow, Mary Nicholson, became custodians of Sime's material which included family keepsakes.


1 box

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession no: E2013.71.

Related Materials

The donation of this material also included a copy of, Memoir of George Wilson. London: Macmillan and Co., 1866. It is inscribed, 'J. A. Sime, 1 Queen Anne's Grove'.

Processing Information

Catalogued by Graeme D. Eddie 24 March 2014

Album and scrapbook collected by Jessie Aitken Wilson Sime
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379