John Francis Campbell

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John Francis Campbell (Scottish Gaelic: Iain Frangan Caimbeul; Islay, 29 December 1821 – Cannes, 17 February 1885), also known as Young John of Islay (Scottish Gaelic: Iain Òg Ìle) was a renowned Scottish author and scholar who specialised in Celtic studies. Campbell was known as an authority on Celtic folklore and of the Gaelic peoples in particular. His most famous published work is the bilingual Popular Tales of the West Highlands (4 vols., 1860–62), The Celtic Dragon Myth (published posthumously in 1911) and separate Gaelic texts.

He is a descendent of Daniel Campbell of Shawfield. Educated at Eton and Edinburgh, he was afterwards Secretary to the Lighthouse Commission. Campbell also invented the sunshine recorder that bears his name as the Campbell–Stokes recorder. He travelled extensively through the Scottish Highlands and Islands with his scribes, scrupulously recording West Highland tales, Fenian ballads, songs, charms and anecdotes.

He was proficient in Gaelic, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Lapp, Italian, Spanish and German. In 1874 he started on a world tour which lasted a year and took him to America, Japan, China, Java, Ceylon and India. Campbell never married, later in his life he embarked on a journey in Europe and is buried under a replica of Islay’s treasured Kildalton Cross in a cemetery in Cannes.

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