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Title: The life and work of Peter Buchan, 1790-1854
Author: Spring, Ian
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1990
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Peter Buchan was described almost contemptuously by Thomas Carlyle as 'a lean-visaged, crane-necked, scraggy-bearded human figure, with an air of enthusiasm, simplicity, distraction and ill-luck'. Yet today, with Carlyle hardly read outside Academia, it is the ballads collected of Buchan that have survived in the rich oral tradition of north-east Scotland to be 'discovered' again by the endeavours of Gavin Greig at the turn of the century and, more recently, by the collectors of the School of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh. The importance and prominence of Buchan's ballad texts (they constitute a large percentage of the 'A' texts in Child) is due, I believe, to three important factors: his situation - the first collector to truly tap the oral tradition of the north east, his social standing - less distanced from the roots of the folk tradition than the upper-class literati, and his work as a printer - familiar with the increasingly wider dissemination of song texts as broadsheets and chapbooks. In this study I have tried to trace Buchan's quixotic career and I have been fortunate in having the help of a wide range of letters and manuscripts in the possession of various institutions available only in part to the early biographers of Buchan - Walker and Fairley. Secondly, I have tried to reassess Buchan's work in the context of our wider knowledge of the Scottish and English folk traditions. To this purpose, I have touched only briefly on the controversy concerning the source of Buchan's ballad manuscripts - as this matter has been well dealt with already by, among others, William Walker, Alexander Keith, Hamish Henderson and David Buchan - but instead concentrated on songs other than the classic ballads preserved in Buchan's manuscripts that have been little considered in the past - notably the songs in his long neglected manuscript collection Secret Songs of Silence - comparable in scope and purpose to Burns's Merry Muses. I have also tried to reassess Buchan's important contribution to the delineation of sources for songs collected or collated by Burns which has been either ignored or condemned by Burns editors to this day. Finally, I have collated and updated the bibliographies of Buchan's publications compiled by Cameron and Fairley.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available