James Hogg (1770-1835), also known as 'The Ettrick Shepherd', lived and worked for most of his life in Ettrick Forest in the Scottish Borders. He is best known for his innovative novel The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824).
Seeing Robert Burns (1759-96) as a writer who gave expression to the experiences, insights, concerns, and traditions of the people of rural Scotland, Hogg set out to become Burns's successor in that role. Neither man was a naïve rustic, however. Although speaking for and from the people, both were in fruitful contact with the intellectual and literary life of the Scottish capital, Edinburgh, which during their lifetimes was one of the major cultural centres of Europe.
During a long career as a writer Hogg produced many poems, songs, periodical articles, plays, and novels. His books include Scottish Pastorals (1801), The Mountain Bard (1807), The Forest Minstrel (1810), The Queen's Wake (1813), The Hunting of Badlewe (1814), The Pilgrims of the Sun (1814), Mador of the Moor (1816), The Poetic Mirror (1816), Dramatic Tales (1817), The Brownie of Bodsbeck and Other Tales (1818), The Jacobite Relics of Scotland (1819), Winter Evening Tales (1820),The Jacobite Relics of Scotland Second Series (1821), The Three Perils of Man (1822), The Three Perils of Woman (1823), The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824), Queen Hynde (1824), The Shepherd's Calendar (1829), Songs by the Ettrick Shepherd (1831), A Queer Book (1832), Altrive Tales (1832), Lay Sermons (1834), Familiar Anecdotes of Sir Walter Scott (1834), and Tales of the Wars of Montrose (1835). In addition, Hogg founded and edited the periodical The Spy (1810-11), and was a frequent contributor to many other periodicals, including Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine and Fraser's Magazine.
Hogg is often associated with the Blackwood's 'Noctes Ambrosianae' circle, and especially with John Wilson. His admirers range from Byron to Andre Gide, and his influence on later Scottish writers has been immense, from Robert Louis Stevenson to Muriel Spark and beyond. Ballads from Hogg's family, and collected by the writer, appear in Walter Scott's Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border, and Hogg's Familiar Anecdotes of Sir Walter Scott provides an insightful portrait of the enduring (if at times fraught) friendship between these two major authors.
For a concise account of Hogg's life, see the entry on him in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford, 2004).
Hogg's farmhouse at Altrive Lake (now called Eldinhope). Plans for an extension to the house are held by the University of Stirling Library's Special Collection in Scottish Literature, and can be viewed online here.
The (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1995 -), now underway but not yet complete, is a modern scholarly edition. Previous editions which are useful but bowdlerised are Tales and Sketches by the Ettrick Shepherd, 6 vols (Glasgow: Blackie and Son, 1836-37), The Poetical Works of the Ettrick Shepherd, 5 vols (Glasgow: Blackie and Son, 1838-40), and The Works of the Ettrick Shepherd, ed. by Thomas Thomson, 2 vols (Glasgow: Blackie and Son, 1865).
Edith C. Batho’s Bibliography in The Ettrick Shepherd (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1927), is still useful, together with her supplementary ‘Notes on the Bibliography of James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd’, in The Library, 16 (1935-36), 309-26. Two more modern and reader-friendly bibliographies are Douglas S. Mack,Hogg’s Prose: An Annotated Listing (Stirling: The James Hogg Society, 1985), and Gillian Hughes, Hogg’s Verse and Drama: A Chronological Listing (Stirling: The James Hogg Society, 1990). Subsequent information about recently discovered Hogg items may be gleaned from various articles in The Bibliotheck and Studies in Hogg and his World.
Major recent studies of Hogg's life and work are Karl Miller's Electric Shepherd (London: Faber, 2003) and Gillian Hughes’ James Hogg: A Life (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2007). Gillian Hughes has also edited Hogg's Collected Letters (3 volumes, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2004, 2006, 2008). A complete index is included in volume 3, but an interim index is also available electronically (Hogg Interim Index). Hogg's life up to 1825 is covered by Alan Lang Strout's The Life and Letters of James Hogg, The Ettrick Shepherd Volume 1 (1770-1825), Texas Technological College Research Publications, 15 (Lubbock, Texas: Texas Technological College, 1946). Much valuable information may be obtained from Mrs M. G. Garden's memoir of her father, Memorials of James Hogg, the Ettrick Shepherd (London: Alexander Gardner, 1885), and from Mrs Norah Parr's account of Hogg's domestic life in James Hogg at Home (Dollar: Douglas S. Mack, 1980). Also useful are Sir George Douglas, James Hogg, Famous Scots Series (Edinburgh: Oliphant Anderson and Ferrier, 1899), and Henry Thew Stephenson's The Ettrick Shepherd: A Biography, Indiana University Studies, 54 (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University, 1922).
Edith C. Batho, The Ettrick Shepherd (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1927)
Louis Simpson, James Hogg: A Critical Study (Edinburgh and London: Oliver and Boyd, 1962)
Douglas Gifford, James Hogg (Edinburgh: The Ramsay Head Press, 1976)
Nelson C. Smith, James Hogg, Twayne's English Authors Series (Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1980)
David Groves, James Hogg: The Growth of a Writer (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1988)
Thomas Crawford, 'James Hogg: The Play of Region and Nation', in The History of Scottish Literature: Volume 3 Nineteenth Century, ed. by Douglas Gifford (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1988), pp. 89–105
Silvia Mergenthal, James Hogg: Selbstbild und Bild, Publications of the Scottish Studies Centre of the Johannes Gutenberg Universität Mainz in Germersheim, 9 (Frankfurt-am-Main: Peter Lang, 1990)
Penny Fielding, Writing and Orality: Nationality, Culture, and Nineteenth-Century Scottish Fiction (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996)
Douglas S. Mack, 'Hogg in 2000 and Beyond', Romanticism on the Net, 19 (August 2000) [http://www.erudit.org/revue/ron/2000/v/n19/005934ar.html]
The Society holds social events from time to time: for example, on 28 June 1998, members met in Ettrick to commemorate the centenary of the completion of the Hogg birthplace monument, with a simple service in Ettrick Kirk and a celebratory visit to the monument, followed by evening entertainment at the Gordon Arms Inn in Yarrow.
The James Hogg Monument, at his birthplace, Ettrick Hall, Ettrick, the Ettrick Valley
The next James Hogg Society Conference James Hogg and His World will be held April 9-12 2015 at Victoria College, University of Toronto. The James Hogg Society casts a wide net and welcomes papers on Hogg, papers on precursors to Hogg, or on later writers who engaged with Hogg, papers that relate generally to Hogg or that are about the work of his contemporaries, Scottish or otherwise.
Hogg Society conferences offer a forum for the discussion of all aspects of Hogg and his world. Speakers are invited to offer their papers for consideration for publication in the Society's peer-reviewed journal, Studies in Hogg and his World.
The James Hogg Society's Hugh McNaughtan Lectures are named after Hugh McNaughtan, who died in the summer of 2000. Hugh was a much-liked and much-respected member of the James Hogg Society whose presence graced and enlivened numerous Hogg Society conferences. Thanks to a munificent donation by Hugh's family, the James Hogg Society has been able to establish a Hugh McNaughtan series of lectures on a subject related to Hogg.
The next lecture in this series will be given by James Robertson on Wednesday 20 November 2013 at 4pm in A96, Pathfoot Building, University of Stirling. The award-winning author of novels such as The Fanatic, Joseph Knight and The Testament of Gideon Mack will speak on "The Strange case of Dr Jekyll, Mr Hogg and the Reverend Gideon Mack".
All subscriptions, and requests for Society Publications, should be sent to:
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The first Newsletter of the James Hogg Society was published in May 1983 and appeared annually until 1989. Between 1984 and 1989 the Society also published Altrive Chapbooks: this reprinted one or more of Hogg's shorter and lesser-known poems or prose tales.
Studies in Hogg and his World is published annually. Each issue contains full-length articles, briefer notes, an edited Hogg text, and reviews of recent publications. An index and several sample articles are available under the downloads tab on this page.
I'll Sing Ye a Wee Bit Song: Selected Songs of James Hogg is available free to new members of the James Hogg Society.
1. Papers Given at the first James Hogg Society Conference (Stirling, 1983), edited by Gillian Hughes (Stirling, 1984).
2. Papers given at the Second James Hogg Society Conference (Edinburgh 1985), edited by Gillian Hughes (Aberdeen: in association with the Association for Scottish Literary Studies, 1988).
3. Hogg's Prose: an Annotated Listing, compiled by Douglas S. Mack (Stirling,1985).
4. Hogg's Verse and Drama: A Chronological Listing, compiled by Gillian Hughes (Stirling, 1990).
5. James Hogg and the St. Ronan's Border Club, by David Groves (1987).
The James Hogg Research Archive contains an extensive collection of Hogg-related documents.
The James Hogg blog contains information about forthcoming news and events.
For information about the working dogs that Hogg loved so much, see the Border Collie Museum website, which has a link to further information about Hogg's relationship to his dogs, including a three part article (1991) that first appeared in a magazine devoted to border collies, The Shepherd's Dogge.