H. M. C. Pyle

Dead Man Writing: James Hogg through the Victorians

James Hogg died on the 21stof November 1835, just on the cusp of the Victorian era. A prominent public figure throughout the Romantic period, Hogg established himself through his literary persona: ‘The Ettrick Shepherd’. Other writers of the period regularly capitalised off this public characterisation, with Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine manifesting its most prominent example in the ‘Noctes Ambrosianae’ series (1822-1835). A prolific writer of both poetry and prose, Hogg had multiple editions of his works – such as the infamous The Queen’s Wake (1813) – circulating within the early-nineteenth-century literary marketplace. However, with his death, he left his remaining family in a troubling financial state, and his public reputation in the hands of the printers, publishers, reviewers, and fellow writers of the burgeoning Victorian empire.  Through this paper, I will demonstrate the ways in which Hogg is edited, re-printed and re-circulated within this distinctly Victorian marketplace, by asking: what was the initial memorialisation of Hogg? How did this effect the public’s perceptions of him and his works later in the nineteenth century? And finally, we shall explore the ways in which the nineteenth-century progression of the printing and publishing industries have ultimately crafted our own modern perceptions.

H.M.C. Pyle, University of Glasgow, Scotland