Happy Birthday Hugh MacDiarmid!

This weekend sees the 120th anniversary of the birth of one of our most famous Scottish poets – widely known as Hugh MacDiarmid, the author of A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle.

Hugh McDiarmid

MacDiarmid was born as Christopher Grieve in Langholm, Dumfriesshire, on 11 August 1892, and spent much of his early career as a journalist with various Scottish newspapers. His reputation as a poet and editor of literary journals was often equalled by his iconoclastic views and opinions on politics and literature.

After a largely itinerant life and career, he settled in 1951 at Brownsbank cottage near Biggar with his second wife Valda, which is now maintained by the Biggar Museum Trust as a writer’s retreat in his memory.

In 1967 the National Library of Scotland celebrated his 75th birthday with an exhibition, and we hold an important collection of his manuscripts. He died in 1978.

Here is the poet himself, talking about his life on the occasion of his 80th birthday in 1972 in the film No Fellow Traveller from our collections at the Scottish Screen Archive.

(Image from Biggar Museum Trust)