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Correspondence of Malcolm MacFarlane, with related literary, lexicographical and musical papers.

Identifier: Acc.9736/1-161

Scope and Contents

Born in Dalavich, Argyll and resident for most of his life in Paisley and Elderslie where he was in business as a surveyor, MacFarlane was a notable Gaelic activist and writer from the late 1880s. He played a prominent part in the early years of An Comunn Gaidhealach (particularly in the production of its magazine, An Deò-Gréine, later An Gaidheal) while, as a radical in politics, taking issue with what he regarded as the An Comunn leadership's over-deference to aristocratic patronage and influence. His correspondents include very many of the writers and scholars active in Gaelic life during this period: Henry Whyte (“Fionn”, 1852-1913), is a particularly regular correspondent. MacFarlane's contacts with Douglas Hyde and other members of the Gaelic League of Ireland, and with other pan-Celtic organisations, is also represented in the correspondence. His musical compositions, arrangements and re-arrangements are very well represented as is his work on Gaelic dictionaries. The papers include some manuscripts of friends, presumably submitted to him for comment, notably work of the Mull-born John MacCormick (died 1947), author of short stories and of the first substantial novel in Gaelic.


  • Creation: 1882-1930, undated.


Language of Materials

Material is in English, Scottish Gaelic and Irish Gaelic. Other langauges may also be present.

Conditions Governing Access

Normal access conditions apply.

Conditions Governing Use

Normal reproduction conditions apply, subject to any copyright restrictions.


161 Consultation units


This is a preliminary draft list. Parts 129-161 have not been arranged in any detail and reference is to box level only.

Custodial History

The papers came originally to the Library in association with the archive of the Scottish National Dictionary. After further enquiries as to their provenance it was established that they had been deposited in offices occupied by the SND and the School of Scottish Studies in George Square, Edinburgh, by the late Dr Sorley Maclean, Skye, and the late Rev William Matheson, Edinburgh, as literary trustees for the family of Malcolm MacFarlane. By agreement with the trustees the papers were presented to the Library in 1988.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Presented, 1988, by the Literary Trustees of Malcolm MacFarlane: Sorley Maclean, Skye, and the Reverend William Matheson, Edinburgh.

National Library of Scotland Catalogue of Manuscripts
National Library of Scotland
Description rules
Finding Aid Prepared Using Local Descriptive Rules
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the National Library of Scotland Archives and Manuscripts Division Repository

Archives and Manuscript Division
National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge
Edinburgh EH1 1EJ
0131 623 3700