Book produced on Montrose’s role in Scottish Renaissance

A book inspired by exhibition panels at Montrose Museum tells the intriguing story of the literary Scottish Renaissance in the early 20th century and the key role played by writers and artists in the burgh at that time.

The publication follows the success of the ‘Ideas O’ Their Ain’ exhibition, exploring the role of Montrose and the inspiration it gave the main players of the Scottish Renaissance during the 1920s cultural revolution in Scotland.

The text is by Rachel Benvie, curator, and Linda J. Fraser, senior assistant. Rachel said: “For all who enjoyed the exhibition, and for anyone interested in any aspect of Scottish culture past and present, this is a must.

“Montrose in the 1920s, the cultural centre of Scotland, was a heady mix of strong personalities who would later make their mark on the development of poetry, prose, sculpture and painting in Scotland.

“Led and fuelled by Christopher Grieve (Hugh MacDiarmid), himself a bundle of contradictions and extremes, the movement included writer and poet Violet Jacob, sculptor William Lamb, painter Edward Baird, author Tom MacDonald (Fionn MacColla), writers Willa and Edwin Muir, and writer and poet Helen Cruickshank.

“A spotlight is directed on the interaction of this inspired group of authors and artists in Montrose, their influence on each other and the course of Scottish culture - a legacy still felt to this day. So whether you are a student of Scottish language and culture, or an enthusiast of Scottish prose and poetry, this is the book for you!”

‘Ideas O’ Their Ain’ is published by Angus Council with the assistance of The Andrew Tannahill Fund for the Furtherance of Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow.

The book is available from Montrose Museum for £5.

The exhibition features art, archives and memorabilia brought together for the first time, from the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, the National Library of Scotland, Stirling University Library, Angus Council Libraries, Archives and Museums and many private collections.

A talk was given on Wednesday in conjunction with the exhibit by writer and broadcaster Denis Rice, who spoke about Tom MacDonald, who wrote as Fionn MacColla. Macdonald wrote well-known novels such as ‘The Albbanch’ and ‘And the Cock Crew’. Denis, who knew the author, gave a personal recollection of him and his works.

The next talk is today (Wednesday, March 4) at 2 p.m. when George Watt, of the Scots Language Society, will look at the Scots language with reference to the Scottish Renaissance, which revolutionized the perception of the use of Scots language in poetry and prose – a legacy which is as strong now as it was almost a century ago.

Next Wednesday (March 11) at 2 p.m., ‘The Musical Dimension of the Scottish Renaissance Movement in Montrose’ is the topic when Mark Spalding, a local musician who has long been interested in the influence of the Scottish Renaissance Movement on music from the same period, will illustrate his talk with recordings and live keyboard music.