Hogg was a superb letter-writer, and this is the initial volume of the first collected edition of his letters (to be completed in three volumes). Many of the letters have never been published before, or published only in part. They vividly reflect Hogg's varied social experience and shed new light on his own writings and those of his contemporaries. Among his famous correspondents were writers such as Scott, Byron, and Southey, antiquarians such as Robert Surtees, politicians such as Sir Robert Peel, and editors and publishers such as John Murray, William Blackwood, and Robert Chambers. But there are also letters to shepherds, farmers, aristocrats, musicians, young ladies, and bluestockings. Hogg first appears in this volume in 1800 as a young shepherd with literary ambitions, and becomes the famous author of The Queen's Wake (1813) and a key supporter of the early Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine (1817). Among the final letters it contains are some tender if idiosyncratic love-letters to the Dumfriesshire girl he married in 1820 at the mature age of forty-nine. Hogg's entertaining and informative letters are supplemented by detailed annotation and a full editorial apparatus, including biographical notes on his chief correspondents and a concise overview of this phase of his life.
About the Author
It is difficult to do justice to the richness of this long volume… What is astonishing is that a complete edition of this corresondence has not been available before. That one should even begin to assess Hogg's letters in the company of the great Romantic epistolists is an indication of the importance of Gillian Hughes's first volume. There is much still to look forward to : the second volume is shortly to appear… All Romanticists are indebted to be splendid Stirling-South Carolina Collected Edition.
Scotland has produced many great letter writers, Burns, Hume, Boswell, Byron, Scott, Stevenson and MacDiarmid. With the first volume of this collection, Hogg joins them and he has been admirably edited. Gillian Hughes gives us an excellent introduction, with clear, brief and useful notes after each letter and short biographies of the major correspondents at the end. These correspondents include Walter Scott, Lord Byron and Robert Southey among writers and the publishers WiIliam Blackwood, Archibald Constable and John Murray. They provide an insight into the atmosphere of the literary world of the time.
The introductory and contextual materials are exemplary, the explanatory notes are astoundingly detailed, and the letters themselves blaze with Hogg's wit, iconoclasm, and ambition… Highly recommended.
This first volume of the Letters takes its place alongside the larger and hugely impressive Stirling/South Carolina edition of the collected works of Hogg, published (like the Edinburgh edition of the Waverley Novels) by Edinburgh University Press in a handsome and long-lasting form… The Letters in this first volume are a sampler that makes the subsequent ones all the more keenly anticipated: but the editorial decisions here have wisely made this volume complete and readable in itself, with extensive notes to each letter - printed after the letter and not grouped unhandily at the rear - a concise note on the text, good biographical summaries, and splendidly managed scholarship throughout… Drunk or sober (and in one letter he confesses he was "half-seas over" last night), serious or comic, he emerges as a sharp-witted man of business who was also an extraordinary writer. And some of his best work lies ahead in future volumes.
In view of Hogg's central role in the writers' workshop this edition of his letters has considerable importance, not only for students of Hogg but for historians of Scottish culture… Gillian Hughes rises to the challenge magnificently…Hughes's biographical and contextual commentary, drawing profitably on the indispensable Murray archive, is unfailingly helpful. Lucid, well-informed and sound of inference, it supplies, without wordiness, exactly the background most readers will need to appreciate the letters.