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The High-Kilted Muse - Peter Buchan and His Secret Songs of Silence

The High-Kilted Muse

Peter Buchan and His Secret Songs of Silence

Edited by Murray Shoolbraid
Foreword by Ed Cray
Hardcover : 9781604734171, 336 pages, April 2010

A never-before-published collection of infamous Scottish bawdy ballads


In 1832 the Scottish ballad collector Peter Buchan of Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, presented an anthology of risqué‚ and convivial songs and ballads to a Highland laird. When Professor Francis James Child of Harvard was preparing his magisterial edition of The English and Scottish Popular Ballads, he made inquiries about it, but it was not made available in time to be considered for his work. On his death it was presented to the Child Memorial Library at Harvard. Because of its unseemly materials, the manuscript languished there since, unprinted, though referred to now and again, and a few items from time to time made an appearance.

The manuscript has now been transcribed with full annotation and with an introduction on the compiler, his times, and the Scottish bawdy tradition. It contains the texts (without tunes) of seventy-six bawdy songs and ballads, along with a long-lost scatological poem attributed to the Edinburgh writer James “Balloon” Tytler. Appendices give details of Buchan's two published collections of ballads. Additionally, there is a list of tale types and motifs, a glossary of Scots and archaic words, a bibliography, and an index. The High-Kilted Muse brings to light a long-suppressed volume and fills in a great gap in published bawdy songs and ballads.