The History of Leith

August 4, 2007

Scottish Writer’s Legacy Carved into History

Scottish dramatist and poet Robert McLellan is to be commemorated at Makars’ Court in a ceremony hosted by Deputy Lord Provost Rob Munn tomorrow. (Saturday 4th Aug – 1pm) A stone sponsored by the Arran Theatre and Arts Trust, will be unveiled by McLellan’s family.

Born on 28 January 1907 at Linmill in Lanarkshire, McLellan’s childhood was spent on his grandparents’ farm, which provided the inspiration for his Linmill stories. From 1938 McLellan lived and worked on Arran until his death on 27 January 1985. Arran was the setting for the long dramatic poem Sweet Largie Bay (1956), and Arran Burn (1965) written for a BBC TV programme about the island.

Influenced by the leading writers of the Scottish Renaissance, McLellan was skilled as a poet and short story-writer. However, McLellan is best-known as a playwright, writing over 15 plays in a vigorous, earthy Scots dialogue. His first major play was Jamie the Saxt, produced in Glasgow in 1937 and revived many times since.

Ahead of the ceremony Deputy Lord Provost Rob Munn said:

“McLellan’s witty and intelligent work and use of the Scots dialect made a huge impact on Scottish drama. He left a body of work that will be enjoyed by many for years to come. McLellan’s written legacy is a great one and his inauguration at Makars’ Court recognises that.

“It was always the intention of the City of Edinburgh Council that Makars’ Court would grow and develop into a Scottish national literary monument – a Scottish equivalent of Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey. The addition of Robert McLellan takes us closer to that”

Chair of the McLellan Centenary Festival and Arran Theatre and Arts Trust, Heather Gough said:

“Robert McLellan had a tremendous influence on Scottish writing making it both respectable and popular to write in living Scots – a writing style that many contemporary writers are proud to use.

“His impact is undeniable. He worked hard over the decades to formulate the notion of a national theatre for Scotland, something that we now have. The Arran Theatre and Arts Trust is delighted to sponsor this commemoration which will stand the test of time just like McLellan’s work.”

Makars’ Court was officially inaugurated by the late Iain Crichton Smith in August 1998. Twelve writers, ranging in from John Barbour who wrote in the 14th century to Sorley MacLean who died in 1996, were selected by the Saltire Society and commemorated by a quotation inscribed in stone and set in paving. 17 stones have been added since.

Media Contact: Gareth Jones, Media and Communications Officer, Tel, 0131 529 4489


Notes to editors

Organisations and individuals wishing to sponsor a stone or nominate a writer are encouraged to contact The Writers’ Museum in the first instance. A proposal is then sent to the Saltire Society for approval by the members of its Council, following recommendation by its nominated representatives, Paul Scott (past-President of the Saltire Society) and Ian Campbell (Professor of English Literature at the University of Edinburgh and member of the Saltire Society’s Literary Panel).

Situated in Lady Stair’s House, built in 1622, The Writers Museum is dedicated to the lives and work of Scotland’s great literary figures, in particular Robert Burns (1759 – 1796), Sir Walter Scott (1771 – 1832) and Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 – 1894). See for more information.

The aim of the Saltire Society is to preserve Scottish tradition and to encourage new developments which can strengthen and enrich the country’s cultural life. See for more information.

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