List of books for the "Famous Scots Series"

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This is a list of books published as the "Famous Scots Series" by the Edinburgh publishers, Oliphant, Anderson and Ferrier, from 1896 to 1905. Forty-two of these books were published though least one volume in the series was planned but never published.[1] These books are distinctive for their bright red covers and uniform presentation. They are generally of a quite high scholarly quality.[2] The authors often had access to biographical material which is no longer available. Two versions of each volume were published. An upmarket version has gilded lettering and motifs on the front cover and has gilt tape as book marker. It is about a quarter of inch longer than the ordinary version which is gilded only on the edge.

Thirty-three of the authors were men and five were women. It appears that all the women were educated at home, presumably by tutors or governesses. Three of the women wrote biographies of Robert Louis Stevenson, namely, Margaret Moyes Black, Rosaline Masson and Eve Blantyre Simpson.

Front cover of Thomas Carlyle, no. 1 in the series. The plain version of the book
Front cover of James Watt, no. 42 in the series. This shows the gilt upmarket version of the book
No Title Author Date Notes
1 Thomas Carlyle Hector C. Macpherson Feb 1896 A biography by Macpherson's son states that "his volume on Carlyle, which appeared in February 1896, was the first of the 'Famous Scots' Series."[3]
2 Allan Ramsay Oliphant Smeaton March 1896 There is a copy of this book signed by "Daniel K. Campbell" and dated by him "March 1896".
3 Hugh Miller W. Keith Leask March 1896
4 John Knox A. Taylor Innes May 1896
5 Robert Burns Gabriel Setoun Jun 1896 "Gabriel Setoun" is the nom de plume of Thomas Nicoll Hepburn.
6 The Balladists[4] John Geddie Jul 1896; Balladists including:Thomas the Rhymer, Robert Henryson, Lady Wardlaw, Lady Nairne, Lady Anne Barnard, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, etc.
7 Richard Cameron John Herkless Oct 1896
8 Sir James Y. Simpson Eve Blantyre Simpson Oct 1896
9 Thomas Chalmers W. Garden Blaikie Dec 1896
10 James Boswell W. Keith Leask Dec 1896
11 Tobias Smollett Oliphant Smeaton Feb 1897
12 Fletcher of Saltoun G.W.T. Omond Mar 1897
13 The “Blackwood” Group Sir George Douglas Apr 1897 This group includes John Wilson, John Galt, D. M. Moir, Susan Ferrier, Michael Scott, and Thomas Hamilton.
14 Norman Macleod John Wellwood Apr 1897
15 Sir Walter Scott George Saintsbury Jun 1897
16 Kirkcaldy of Grange Louis A. Barbé Oct 1897
17 Robert Fergusson A. B. Grosart Jan 1898
18 James Thomson William Bayne Jan 1898
19 Mungo Park T. Banks Maclachlan Mar 1898
20 David Hume Henry Calderwood Feb 1898
21 William Dunbar Oliphant Smeaton Apr 1898
22 Sir William Wallace A. F. Murison Jun 1898
23 Robert Louis Stevenson Margaret Moyes Black Aug 1898
24 Thomas Reid A. Campbell Fraser Feb 1898
25 Pollok and Ayton Rosaline Masson Nov 1898
26 Adam Smith Hector C. Macpherson Feb 1899
27 Andrew Melville William Morison Jul 1899
28 James Frederick Ferrier E. S. Haldane May? 1899 E. S. Haldane's full name is Elizabeth Sanderson Haldane
29 King Robert the Bruce A. F. Murison Jul 1899
30 James Hogg Sir George Douglas Sep 1899 Also included are short biographies of the poets Robert Tannahill, William Motherwell, and William Thom
31 Thomas Campbell J. Cuthbert Hadden Oct 1899
32 George Buchanan Robert Wallace Dec 1899 Completed by J. Campbell Smith.
33 Sir David Wilkie and the Scots school of painters Edward Pinnington Jan? 1900 These include: Allan Ramsay (artist), James Tassie, David Allan, Sir Henry Raeburn, Sir William Allan, Sir Noel Paton etc.
34 The Erskines A. R. MacEwen Apr 1900 They are the brothers: Ebenezer and Ralph Erskine.
35 Thomas Guthrie Oliphant Smeaton May 1900
36 David Livingstone T. Banks Maclachlan Jan? 1901
37 The Academical Gregories Agnes Grainger Stewart Apr 1901 These include: John Gregory, James Gregory, William Gregory, etc. The book outlines the lives of twelve Gregories from 1638–1858
38 Johnston of Warriston William Morison May 1901
39 Henry Drummond James Y. Simpson Oct 1901 The author's father was nephew of his namesake, James Young Simpson, the discoverer of chloroform.
40 Principal Cairns John Cairns Mar 1903 John Cairns (1857-1922) was the nephew of Principal Cairns.
41 Viscount Dundee Louis A. Barbé 1903
42 James Watt Andrew Carnegie 1905 The year 1905 is mentioned on page 28 of the book where Carnegie states: "Even in 1905 we have still a far road to travel."

No more books in this series were published, as is evidenced by the following report in the New York Times in 1904:
"LONDON, Sept. 16. -- Andrew Carnegie has written a little book on James Watt, the great engineer. It will be the concluding volume of the Famous Scots Series, published by Messrs. Oliphant, Anderson Ferrier." [5]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ In some of the early books, e.g. The ‘Blackwood’ Group and Norman Macleod, a list of forthcoming volumes is given at the back. These include a work entitled Jeffrey and the Edinburgh Reviewers by Sir Hugh Gilzean-Reid but this was apparently never published for whatever reason.
  2. ^ This list was compiled from a number of sources including library catalogues and websites such as Amazon.
  3. ^ Hector Macpherson: The Man and his Work, A Memoir by his Son, Hector Macpherson. Edinburgh: W.F. Henderson, 1925, p.31
  4. ^ Geddie, John (1896). The Balladists. Edinburgh: Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier.
  5. ^ THE NEW YORK TIMES. Saturday, 17 September 1904, Section: REVIEW OF BOOKS, Page BR625.