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Papers of Professor William Fraser Mitchell

Identifier: Coll-86

Scope and Contents

The papers of Professor Mitchell at MS 2271-2290 include poems, plays and an unfinished novel Moth and Peaseblossom which was to followCobweb and mustard seedpublished in 1928; copies of A slim volume; notes and manuscripts; general letters from between the 1920s and the 1980s; papers on educational research; letters to him on education; papers on contemporary poets and artists; and, material on religion and tolerance, and pulpit teaching. There are card indexes for Mitchell's research on Monboddo; letters and papers on his Monboddo research; newspaper and other cuttings on Monboddo; and, genealogical material relating to Monboddo. There is an album of Christmas cards, Victorian and Edwardian ephemera, postcard albums, and material on the history of Dundee. There are personal papers too, and Mitchell's academic hoods.

At Gen. 1948 there are poems and an essay offered for prizes at Oxford, a typescript on paganism, a fragment of a novel, a typescript for a play, a verse drama, and printed material.

At E67.32a there is a collection of papers containing the typescriptsMorte d'Arthur - a play in four actsand Tyrtaeus, or, the Future of War Poetry. The former typescript, from 1922, is a play reflecting young ex-servicemen's attitude to war and the older generation. (Mitchell had noted this in the Rectorial Address of Sir James Barrie delivered at St.Andrews University in May 1922 and which was published in Courage, and he used an incident related by Barrie on p.32 of the address). The latter typescript, Tyrtaeus, written in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1928, was intended as one in a series of books to be published by Kegan Paul. These papers also include a letter from publishers Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner and Co. Ltd. to Mitchell, dated 16 March 1928. It thanks him for sending them the essay on the future of war poetry, but offers regret that they were not of the opinion that the book would meet with sufficient sales to render it a suitable volume for their To-day and To-morrow series. It recommended an approach to the Hogarth Press.


  • Creation: circa 1919-1984

Biographical / Historical

William Fraser Mitchell was born in Dundee in 1900. He was educated at Dundee High School, leaving in 1918. In January 1919 he matriculated at Edinburgh University, studying English. He graduated with First Class Honours in 1922 and then went on to Exeter College, Oxford, researching English rhetorical preaching in the seventeenth century. He was awarded the degree of B.Litt., and was later successful in publishing his workEnglish pulpit oratory from Andrewes to Tillotson: a study of its literary aspects(1932). After Oxford, Mitchell studied Education at Moray House and Edinburgh University, and became personal assistant to Professor Sir Godfrey Thomson (1925-1951). After a temporary post as Lecturer in English at Armstrong College, Newcastle, he was appointed Lecturer in Education at the University of Reading in 1928 where he remained until 1944. A secondment to Farnborough Grammar School as an English master was followed by his appointment as Professor of Education in the Selly Oak Colleges, Birmingham, where he instructed teachers of religious knowledge, missionary teachers, overseas student teachers, Froebel students, and youth leaders. With the closure of the Department of Education at Selly Oak in 1951, Mitchell took a post as Assistant Lecturer in English at Huddersfield Technical College, but in 1955 he returned to the Midlands to take part in the establishment of the Malayan Teachers' College in Wolverhampton. There, three hundred students flown over from Malaya were trained for secondary school teaching. He then returned to Huddersfield Technical College for a time, was a Lecturer at the University of Sheffield, 1957-1958, and until his retirement in 1965 was an Assistant English Master at Colne Valley High School. In addition to his study of comparative education, religious education and comparative religion, Mitchell was interested in the life of James Burnett, Lord Monboddo (1714-1799). When he retired to Dundee, he took up his research again and involved himself in church work. He published collections of poetry including Off parade and other verses (1919), Cobweb and mustard seed (1928), and A slim volume(1960). William Fraser Mitchell died in July 1988.


2 linear metres (18 boxes; 3 album)

Physical Location

Gen. 1948; MS 2271-2290; E67.32a

Related Materials

The Index to Manuscripts shows a reference to letters to W. F. Mitchell covering 1947-1970 at Gen. 1971/3

Papers of William Fraser Mitchell (1900-1988)
Language of description
Script of description

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
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