The Correspondence of Samuel Thomson (1766-1816)

Fostering an Irish Writers' Circle

Edited by: Jennifer Orr

During the Romantic period in the north of Ireland, a circle of bards were corresponding with one another, encouraging each other to pen verse, often united by political sympathies. The correspondence of Samuel Thomson, the 'Bard of Carngranny,' a schoolmaster poet from Co. Antrim, provides a window on this Romantic circle of poets. As Dove Cottage was to William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomson's cottage, known as Crambo Cave after the Scots verse parlor game, was a literary nexus for aspiring poets, many of whom aspired to write in the Scots vernacular. Thomson could thereby be described as the father of an independent tradition of Ulster-Scots poetry. Thomson famously corresponded with Robert Burns, but a much more complex narrative emerges in which Thomson's correspondence with Burns is tangential to the roles he played among his own correspondents; first as the tutelary poet of a tradition of Ulster poetry, secondly as fellow teacher and improver; as a Seceder Presbyterian who found himself attracted to evangelical spiritualism in the wake of disappointed patriotism; and finally as a confidant of members of the United Irishmen. (Series: Ulster and Scotland - Vol. 12) *** "Orr's general introduction, separate biographical introductions for each author, and extensive explanatory notes provide a carefully nuanced portrait of how Thomson's life and times transcend restrictive literary, political, religious and cultural categories. One of the pleasures of this book is how Orr's research gives new dimensions to Thomson's correspondents... Jennifer Orr's analysis of their interesting letters demonstrates her astute understanding of the complexities and nuances of late eighteenth-century Ulster politics, religion, literature, and culture. She presents new information and important insights about this crucial period to even the most senior literary scholars and historians." - Irish Literary Supplement, Vol. 33, No. 1, Fall 2013~


242 pages

Publication Date: 5/3/2012
Format: Cloth
ISBN: 9781846823053