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Collection of papers and correspondence relating to the publication history of The Scottish Insurrection of 1820 by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac a’Ghobhainn

Identifier: Coll-2008

Content Description

This collection consists of typed and holograph correspondence and associated materials concerning the publication history of The Scottish Insurrection of 1820 by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac a'Ghobhainn (Gollancz, 1970). Berresford Ellis offered the book to Giles Gordon, Editorial Director at Gollancz, in March 1969. With the 150th anniversary of the insurrection approaching, the project was swiftly accepted, and the manuscript (already well advanced) was delivered that summer. Although in-house reaction was positive, the manuscript met with severe criticism when sent to Scottish historian William Roach for comment. Roach deplored what he saw as a lack of academic rigour, complaining that key sources were ignored or misused. The two authors held firm, refusing to make any amendments, and Gollancz decided to proceed with publication, hoping that controversy might be good for sales. The book was eventually published on 2 April 1970 .

The file contains:

  1. TLS (Typed Letter Signed) from Beresford Ellis to Giles Gordon of Gollanc, 23 March 1969, enclosing synopsis of the proposed book, and proposing that the introduction should be written by Hugh MacDiarmid.
  2. Typed letter from Gordon to Berresford Ellis, 16 April 1969, accepting the book for publication and outlining terms, with a TLS in reply from Berresford Ellis dated the following day, accepting terms.
  3. Typed reader's report (highly favourable) by Ian Rodger with cover TLS to Gordon, 11 August 1969
  4. Letter from Gordon to Berresford's agent, Michael Thomas at A.M. Heath, 26 September 1969, criticizing the authors' research, and withdrawing the book from publication unless and until errors and omissions are corrected.
  5. TLS from Berresford Ellis to Gordon, 1 October 1969, with an accompanying 4pp typed refutation of the criticisms.
  6. Letters from Mac a'Ghobhainn to Gordon, 27 November and 6 December 1969, pointing out misspellings of his name on the book's proof dust-wrapper.
  7. TLS from Hamish MacQueen of the Scottish National Party to Gordon, 13 December 1969, requesting proof dust-wrappers of the book in order to publicise it ahead of publication.
  8. Biographical and Publicity Information forms of both authors, both typed but with a few holograph additions and corrections.
  9. ALS (Autograph Letter Signed) from the writer, broadcaster, and critic Moray McLaren to Gordon, 24 February 1970, informing Gordon that he is to review the book for ‘The Guardian’, and requesting an extra copy for Compton Mackenzie (with a reply from Gordon declining the request).
  10. A number of black and white headshots of both authors, a proof dust-wrapper for the book, and a small collection of Gollancz in-house correspondence.


  • Creation: 1969-1986


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1 file

Collection of papers from the archives of Publisher Victor Gollancz, related to the publication history of "The Scottish Insurrection of 1820" by Peter Berresford Ellis and Seumas Mac A'Ghobhainn
Language of description
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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
George Square
Edinburgh EH8 9LJ Scotland
+44(0)131 650 8379