George Henderson (scholar)

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George Henderson (18 February 1866 – 26 June 1912) was a scholar of Scottish Gaelic.


Henderson was born on 18 February 1866 in Heughden, Kiltarlity, Inverness-shire, in Scotland. He went to Raining's School in Inverness, where he was taught by Alexander MacBain, a lexicographer of Scottish. He then attended the University of Edinburgh, studying English literature, philosophy and Celtic. After graduating in 1888, he became the examiner for the MA in Celtic. He then worked in South Uist in 1892, collecting oral Gaelic literature, before travelling to Vienna in 1893 and obtaining his doctorate. On his return in 1896, he studied at Jesus College, Oxford, and obtained a BLitt on Scottish Gaelic dialects. He married in Iffley near Oxford in May 1901 before his ordination as a Church of Scotland minister in June 1901.

He served the parish of Eddrachillis, Sutherland, until 1906 when he was appointed as a lecturer in Celtic at the University of Glasgow.

He had in the interim obtained a collection of Gaelic folksongs and tunes from the Isle of Skye, collected by Frances Tolmie, and these were published by the Folksong Society in 1911 upon his recommendation.

He was an admirer of the work of John Francis Campbell and after Campbells' death in 1885 Henderson started working on Campbells unfinished book The Celtic Dragon Myth, eventually published in 1911.[1] Henderson contributed some translation work, provided an extensively detailed introduction, and completed the editing of the manuscript for its eventual publication.

He died aged 46 in Rutherglen on 26 June 1912.[2]


Henderson had a large output of published material, although his work was sometimes inconsistent. His principal works include the following:[2]

  • John Morison's Dain Iain Ghobha (1893–96), a two-volume collection and edition (with a memoir) of religious Gaelic verse.
  • Publications in Zeitschrift für celtische Philologie on Scottish Gaelic dialects (the result of his BLitt at Oxford)
  • Leabhar nan Gleann (1898)
  • An edition of Fled Bricrend for the Irish Texts Society (1899)
  • The Norse Influence on Celtic Scotland (1910)
  • Survivals in Belief among the Celts (1911)
  • Arthurian Motifs in Gadhelic Literature (1912)


  1. ^ The Celtic Dragon Myth
  2. ^ a b Campbell, J. L.; Matthew, H. C. G. (2004). "Henderson, George (1866–1912)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. Retrieved 2009-01-27.