F. Marian McNeill

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Florence Marian McNeill, MBE was born on 26 March 1885 at Holm in Orkney. She was a Scottish folklorist, best known for writing The Silver Bough (not to be confused with The Golden Bough), a four-volume study of Scottish folklore.

Along with her two sisters, she was brought up by her mother, Janet Dewar, and her father, the Reverend Daniel McNeill, who was a minister of the Free Kirk in Orkney. She was educated at Kirkwall Burgh School and then at Glasgow University from which she graduated in 1912. For the next year, she taught English in France and Germany. However she returned to Britain in 1913 and worked initially as an organiser for the Scottish Federation Of Women's Suffrage Societies in Scotland and later as secretary for the Association for Moral and Social Hygiene in London where she remained until 1917. At the end of the First World War, she moved back to Edinburgh and started work as a researcher for the Scottish National Dictionary and by 1929 she had become principal assistant on the project.

During the years between the First and Second World Wars she became involved in the revival of Scottish literature and culture known as the Scottish Renaissance. She is best known as the author of The Scots Kitchen, published in 1929. This encyclopaedic work covers the essentials and surprising diversity of Scotland's culinary heritage, complete with a wealth of historical and literary references. Recipes include Forfar bridies, Cock-a-leekie soup and porridge.[1]

A smaller work, although equally well researched is her Iona: A History of the Island. Noting the "much detail" which characterised works on the subject already in existence in 1920, a "modest handbook" was nowhere to be found; a deficiency she set about rectifying.

In 1962 she was awarded an MBE for services to Scottish culture. She died in Edinburgh on 22 February 1973.


  • McNeill, F. Marian (1957–1968). The Silver Bough, Vol. 1-4. William MacLellan, Glasgow. Paperback edition, ISBN 0-86241-231-5
  • The Scots Kitchen. Paperback: 259 pages Mercat Press; New edition (25 Oct 2004) ISBN 1-84183-070-4
  • Iona: A History of the Island. Hardback Blackie & Son. 1st Edition 1920, 2nd Edition 1935, 3rd Edition 1946, Later updates ISBN 9780216893245