249 years ago, James Boswell and Samuel Johnson, famous writers from England, traveled for several months in Scotland: August-November 1773. In 2015 I wrote a Books & Beyond about Mendelssohn’s trip to Scotland in 1829. This is the year he began to write his “Scotch” Symphony; it was first performed in Leipzig, Germany in 1842.
I wanted to know more about Scotland as my ancestry test confirmed that I am 53% Scottish. I knew that my mother’s father’s ancestors (surnames Blake and Campbell) came from Scotland. The book I will write more about deals with the 1850s when some Scots immigrated to America, some settling in South Carolina.
Singer Glen Campbell (1936-2017) is described as Scottish. Actor Sir Sean Connery (1930-2020) was Scottish. A well-known Scottish actress is Rose Leslie. She was on the TV show Downton Abbey.
First, I want to tell you about two children’s books that I have read. “Loch Ness Monster,” circa 2011, is by David Schach. He writes about a man named Tim Dinsdale who was in Scotland in 1960, looking for the monster in the lake. Loch is the Scottish word for lake. On the sixth day he was there, he saw a large shape moving through the water, probably 16 feet long, 6 feet wide, and 5 feet high. The book contains photos that people took in 1934 and 1977. In 1996, “Local resident Gary Campbell sees a large black bump rising above the surface of Loch Ness”, (pp. 12-13).
“Loch Ness Monsters: Are They Real?” Is a 24-page paperback with photographs and a short text on each page. This book is about the possibility of Edna MacInnes seeing a “huge, dark shape in the water” (page 4). The last page of the book contains a glossary, two websites where you can read more about possible sightings, and two other book titles.
The deep historical book that I am going to review is “Whiskey, Kilts and the Loch Ness Monster: Traveling Scotland with Boswell and Johnson” written by William W. Starr, c 2011. Each of the book’s 23 chapters begins with a small map with the cities shown that Starr has visited.
It was interesting to me that Starr didn’t write much about the Loch Ness Monster. My imagination tells me that in his first copy he did, but either he or the publisher, University of South Carolina Press, decided to leave that section out of the book.
Here is basic information from Wikipedia: The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (UK), since 1922, has four constituent countries: England, Scotland and Wales ( which collectively form Great Britain), as well as Northern Ireland (variously described as a country, province or region).
An ever-present topic that I want to remember is castles. I discovered that Scotland is not the only country with castles. Even the United States has castles. One site where you can view this information is www.theculturetrip.com. There are thirteen American castles depicted and described, although none of them are in the Midwest.
Whenever Starr stops on his journey, it’s usually to visit a castle. On his way to visit a castle, he went into town to a café, a bookstore and a post office. In the town of Inverary, Starr is staying at a hotel where Boswell and Johnson have stayed. They arrived there on horseback; Starr drives his car, often on one-lane roads. This hotel had existed since 1755. Robert Burns had stayed there in 1787.
So yes, I removed the Robert Burns book from our library shelves. The book includes a memoir, poems, songs, epigrams and epitaphs, and general correspondence. Here is a verse from “Grace after dinner:”
O You, in whom we live and move,
Who made the sea and the shore;
Your goodness we constantly prove,
And grateful, I would love to. (p. 188).
When I spent more time with this book, I found his poem “Halloween.” It’s 29 stanzas. One of his most famous poems is “Tam o’ Shanter.”
Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Scotland. One of his poems that I remember reading in my youth is “The swing.” This is one of the poems from the book A Child’s Garden of Verses:
How do you like to ride in a swing,
Looks so blue?
Oh, I think that’s the sweetest thing
A child can never do! (p.46)
I clipped a brief article from October 10, 2022, Independent. It starts “The Scottish Prime Minister said on Sunday that she would continue her campaign to get Scotland out of the UK…”
Most of the books I referenced are available at the Marshall-Lyon County Library. You will also find books to read about your genetic heritage and there is free access to Ancestry.com and Fold3 in the library. marshalllyonlibrary.org