Margaret Bennett (writer)

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Margaret Bennett
Margaret Bennett (writer).JPG
Margarett Bennett (2006)
Born (1946-10-27) 27 October 1946 (age 71)
Isle of Skye, Scotland
Occupation folklorist

Margaret Bennett (27 October 1946) is a Scottish writer, folklorist, ethnologist, broadcaster and singer. Her main interests lies in the field of traditional Scottish folk culture and cultural identity of the Scots, home and abroad. The late Hamish Henderson, internationally distinguished poet and folklorist, said about her: Margaret embodies the spirit of Scotland.[1]


Margaret Bennett grew up in a family of tradition bearers: Gaelic, from her mother's side, and Irish and Lowland Scots from her father's. She and her three sisters lived their childhood in the Isle of Skye, "in a household where singing, playing music, dancing and storytelling were a way of life as were traditional crafts."[2] The family moved to the Isle of Lewis in the late 1950s, and then to the Shetland Islands between 1963–1964, when her father (a civil engineer) emigrated to Newfoundland, Canada. When visiting him in 1965, she came across the newly founded Folklore Department at Memorial University of Newfoundland. There, under the direction of Prof. Herbert Halpert, she realised that her cultural heritage "was a subject you could actually study and get a degree in."[3]

After finishing her teacher training in Scotland with distinction, Margaret went back to Newfoundland, where she worked as an elementary school teacher in St. John's between 1967–68. From 1968 she attended the University, intermittently lecturing part-time at St. John's Vocational College, then, in 1975, earned a post-graduate M.A. from M.U.N. She spent a year in Quebec as folklorist for the Museum of Man (now Canadian Museum of Civilization, across the Ottawa River) before returning to Scotland. Between 1977–1984, she worked as a special education teacher in the Scottish Education Department. From 1984 to 1995, she was lecturer in Scottish Ethnology at the School of Scottish Studies of the University of Edinburgh. Since October 1995 she has been Glasgow Honorary Research Fellow of the University of Glasgow (attached to Glasgow-Strathclyde School of Scottish Studies) and lecturer in folklore at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow.

She is the mother of the late Martyn Bennett.

Academic life[edit]

  • 1967: Dip. Ed (Distinction), Jordanhill College of Education (Strathclyde University), Glasgow.
  • 1970: she received a B.A.(Ed.) in Education from the Memorial University of Newfoundland at St. John's.
  • 1975: she earned a Post-graduate M.A. in Folklore from M.U.N. defending her thesis "Some Aspects of the Scottish Gaelic Traditions of the Codroy Valley, Newfoundland", where she records and analyses the traditions of the Gaelic-speaking settlers in the Codroy Valley.
  • 1994: she achieved a PhD in Ethnology from the University of Edinburgh with a thesis entitled "Hebridean Traditions of the Eastern Townships of Quebec: A Study in Cultural Identity".



  • Love and Loss – Remembering Martyn in Scotland's Music, 2007
  • Take the road to Aberfeldy, 2007
  • Glen Lyon, 2002
  • In the sunny long ago…, 2000 (all arrangements and production by Margaret and Martyn Bennett)

Prizes and Homages (main)[edit]

  • Michaelis-Jena Ratcliff Folklore Prize (1991, for her book The Last Stronghold)
  • The Scotch Malt Whisky Society Award (1994)
  • The Donald Fergusson International Essay Prize (1995) for her study of Gaelic Song in Eastern Canada
  • Master Music Maker Award (1998)
  • The Clio Award for Quebec, Canadian Historical Association/Société historique du Canada (1999, for her book Oatmeal and the Catechism)
  • Exceptional Celtic Woman Award from Celtic Women International, (2003)
  • Honorary Life Membership of the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland (2007)


  1. ^ "Margaret Bennett". Orkney Folk Festival. 2009. Retrieved 2 April 2009. 
  2. ^ Frank R. Shaw (2005). "A Chat with Margaret Bennett". Retrieved 13 January 2009. 
  3. ^ Liam Caiside (2006). "An Interview with Margaret Bennett". Retrieved 13 January 2009. 

External links[edit]