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Material relating to Sorley MacLean

Identifier: Coll-1271

Scope and Contents

At E2010.23 there is an autograph letter signed as 'S. MacLean' to Mr Stephen (probably Meic Stephens), placed and dated Plockton, 5 August 1969. The brief letter is about the Taliesin Congress and how Maclean will 'accept your invitation to attend the Taliesin Congress'. Meic Stephens (born 1938) was then Literature Director of the Welsh Arts Council.
Three later additions: 1) autograph letter signed to David Morrison (poet and and editor) referring to a previously unpublished translation of a poem [submitted for inclusion in Scotia Review]. Describing it as 'a kind of Epilogue to the abruptly ended "Cuillin"', 2pp, Braes, 9 December 1984.
2) Autograph letter signed to Sally Evans (poet and editor) apologising for his tardiness in replying to her letter of 8 January but explaining that he had been away from Skye for much of the intervening time, 2pp., Braes, 2 April 1983.
3) Autograph letter signed to Sally Evans commenting on her translations of some of his work which she has sent him and on the nature of translation in general, 4pp, Braes, 30 August 1987.


  • 1969-1987


Language of Materials


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Biographical / Historical

The Scottish poet Sorley MacLean was born in Oscaig, Raasay, on 26 October 1911. He was educated locally and then at Portree High School. He studied English Literature at Edinburgh University from 1929, graduating in 1933 with a First. MacLean then began a teaching career, starting in Portree after qualifying from Moray House (teacher training college). Briefly between 1937-1938 he taught at Tobermoray Secondary School before returning to Edinburgh in 1939 to the English Department of Boroughmuir High School.

In 1940, MacLean joined the Signals Corps and was posted to North Africa. He was seriously wounded at El Alamein in November 1942, and was invalided home to Scotland. He returned to his teaching post at Boroughmuir in 1943. In 1946 he married Renee Cameron. Although their life seemed settled in Edinburgh, and Sorley had been drawn into the literary circle of Douglas Young and his associates, which included George Campbell Hay, Norman McCaig, and especially Robert Garioch (Alastair Sutherland), he accepted the appointment of Headmaster at Plockton High School in 1956.

MacLean's output included Seventeen Poems for Six-pence (with Garioch, 1940), Dain do Eimhir (1943), and co-authorship of Four Points of a Saltire (1970).

He retired as Headmaster at Plockton in 1972 but then found himself drawn into a new educational experience, first as the Creative Writing Fellow at Edinburgh University (1973-5) and then as Filidh (‘Poet’) at the then embryonic Gaelic College at Sabhal Mor Ostaig (1975-6).

Sorley MacLean died in Inverness on 24 November 1996.


1 letter

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

First item purchased in June 2010. Accession no: E2010.23.
Three letters purchased in March 2017. Accession no: SC-Acc-2017-0172.

Processing Information

Compiled by Graeme D. Eddie and Aline Brodin, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections.
Material relating to Sorley MacLean (1911-1996)
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Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

Centre for Research Collections
University of Edinburgh Main Library
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Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
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