Alexander Anderson (poet)
30 April 1845|
Kirkconnel, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland
|Died||11 July 1909(aged 64)|
Alexander Anderson (30 April 1845 – 11 July 1909) was a Scottish poet.
Born in Kirkconnel, Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, the sixth and youngest son of James Anderson a quarrier. When the boy was three, the household moved to Crocketford in Kirkcudbrightshire. He attended the local school where the teacher found him to be of average ability. The area around Crocketford was renowned for martyrdom and Anderson seems to have taken inspiration from his walks in the hills in his later poetry. At sixteen he was back in his native village working in a quarry; some two years later (1862), he became a surfaceman or platelayer on the Glasgow and South-western railway, and generally wrote under the name of Surfaceman.
Spending all his leisure in self-culture, he mastered German, French, and Spanish sufficiently to read the chief masterpieces in these languages. His poetic vein, which was true if somewhat limited in range, soon manifested itself, and in 1870 he began to send verses to the ‘People's Friend’ of Dundee, and subsequently his first book ‘A Song of Labour and other Poems’, was published in 1873 by the Dundee Advertiser in a run of 1000. Thanks to the support of The People's Friend this issue sold out within a fortnight. He was also aided by the support of the Rev George Gilfillan, a poetry critic in Dundee. Gilfillan wrote to Thomas Aird “You will be greatly interested in his simple manner and appearance-an unspoiled Burns is these respects and not without a little real mens divinor. Of course you know his poetry and his remarkable history”. and there followed Two Angels (1875), Songs of the Rail (1878), and Ballads and Sonnets (1879). In the following year he was made assistant librarian in the University of Edinburgh, and after an interval as secretary to the Philosophical Institution there, he returned as Chief Librarian to the university. Thereafter he wrote little. Of a simple and gentle character, he made many friends, including the Duke of Argyll, Thomas Carlyle, and Lord Houghton.
A famous poem of his is "Cuddle Doon".
- A Song of Labour, and other poems 1873. Dundee
- The Two Angels, and other poems With an introductory sketch by Rev. G. Gilfillan. 1875. London
- Songs of the Rail 1878. London
- Ballads and Sonnets. 1879. London
- Later Poems of Alexander Anderson, “Surfaceman.” Edited, with a biographical sketch, by Alexander Brown. 1912.
- Cuthbertson, David. The Life-History of Alexander Anderson-“Surfaceman”. 1929. Inveresk. 139pp
- Brown, Alexander. Later Poems of Alexander Anderson, “Surfaceman.” Edited, with a biographical sketch, by Alexander Brown. 1912.
- Edwards, D. H. One Hundred Modern Scottish Poets 1880 Pages 157-168.
- Miller, Frank. Poets of Dumfriesshire 1910. Pages 294-300.
- Wilson, James Grant. Poets and Poetry of Scotland. Volume 2 1876 Pages 501-506.
- Murdoch, Alexander G. Recent and Living Scottish Poets 1883 Pages 401-406.
- Watt, Julia Muir Dumfries and Galloway: A Literary Guide 2000. Pages 168-171.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Cousin, John William (1910). A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature. London: J. M. Dent & Sons. Wikisource
|Wikisource has original works written by or about:
- Alexander Anderson: 'Poet of the Iron Horse and Cottage Home' biography & selected writings at gerald-massey.org.uk
- Video and commentary on Alexander Anderson
- Archival material relating to Alexander Anderson listed at the UK National Archives
- Works by or about Alexander Anderson in libraries (WorldCat catalog)