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Material relating to Tessa Ransford

 Fonds — Box: CLX-A-1532
Identifier: Coll-1727

Scope and Contents

The collection is composed of the following materials:

  1. 1 x spiral bound copy of Granny's Guest 1902-1945, by Torfrida, which is an account of Ransford family life from the birth of Torfrida, her mother, in 1902, until Tessa and her family returned to Britain in the 1940s, pp.73
  2. 1 x bundle correspondence from Walter to Tessa, Duncan [Glen] to Tessa, and Eileen to Tessa, 2007-2010
  3. 1 x copy of Lyrics and tales in twa tongues, for Michael, poetry, pp.45
  4. 1 x copy of poems including, 'The botach and the three loons', 'The cock an the tod', 'Daith an the wuidcutter', 'The corbie an the tod', 'The midgie an the lion', 'The animals seik wi the pest', 'The reivers an the dunkey', 'The wolf an the dug', 'The puddocks wha wanted a king', 'The cricket an the eemock', 'Daith an the deein man', and 'The dairy lass an the stowp o mulk', pp.18
  5. 1 x collection of loose leaf typescript poems addressed to Ransford from Henry Marsh, with an essay entitled The hammer and the fire [an essay on the life & works of John Knox], and the poems being: 'At the High Kirk, St. Giles', 'George Wishart', 'In the French galleys', 'Berwick', 'By the house of Dun', 'St. John's Kirk, Perth', 'The Reformation of Lindores Abbey', 'Remembering the field of Pinkie', 'Loss', 'Of the monstrous regiment', 'De revolutionibus orbium coelestrium', 'In thrall', 'Sisyphus', 'Bunty Wallace', 'Edinburgh, August 1572', 'Gethsemane : by the Netherbow, 24th November 1572', 'January 2009', and 'Homecoming', pp.26, and with ts signed letter, 1p., to Tessa, from Marsh, dated Loanhead, 30 March 2011, and printed card with poem 'At New Lanark', A. C. Clarke, which has ms message 'Tessa, Thank you!'
  6. 1 x pack of poetry cards (13) (by Jean Rafferty), some duplicated, with ms note from Jean to 'Dear Tessa', and ms note on pack envelope


  • Creation: 1975-2010


Language of Materials


Biographical / Historical

Poet, editor and translator Tessa Ransford was born in Mumbai (then Bombay), India, on 8 July 1938. She was the daughter of Sir Alister and Lady Torfrida Ransford. Her father had been Master of the Mint in Bombay. The family moved back to England in 1944, then to Scotland in 1948. Tessa studied at St Leonard’s School in St Andrews then at Edinburgh University where she read German and was awarded a degree in Philosophy.

She married a minister of the Church of Scotland and for over a decade they did missionary work in Pakistan (herself a Quaker). The couple and their two sons returned to Edinburgh in the 1960s and Tessa wo worked at the Netherbow Centre in the Royal Mile and attended evening classes in Scottish literature.

She set up the Scottish Poetry Library in 1984 at Tweeddale Court in Edinburgh, and was its founding director. Earlier, in 1982, the Scottish Poetry Library Association had been founded. She then spearheaded work to launch a purpose-built library which finally opened in spring 1999. Once the new premises had opened she retired from the role as Scottish Poetry Library director and became involved in new literary ventures, particularly Scottish PEN, of which she was President 2003-06, and the promotion of poetry pamphlets.

Although her work at the Scottish Poetry Library had taken up much of her time, she published more than 23 books of poems, and she also translated many poems into German. Her poetry often had spiritual or religious overtones. Tessa Ransford died on 2 September 2015.


1 folder

Physical Location


Immediate Source of Acquisition

Material acquired in parts, 2015-2016: 18 March 2015, Accession no. RBP-accn-2015-6; and, 18 January 2016, Accession no. SC-Acc-2016-0003

Related Materials

Check the general Library Catalogue for holdings within the Ransford collection, Special Collections (e.g. Ransford.P.***; and, Ransford.S.***series)

Processing Information

Catalogued by Graeme D. Eddie, 10 March 2016

Material relating to Tessa Ransford
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
+44(0)131 650 8379