S. R. Crockett

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S. R. Crockett
Samuel Rutherford Crockett, by Elliott & Fry
Samuel Rutherford Crockett, by Elliott & Fry
Born(1859-09-24)24 September 1859
Duchrae, Balmaghie, Kirkcudbrightshire
Died16 April 1914(1914-04-16) (aged 54)
Resting placeBalmaghie

Samuel Rutherford Crockett (24 September 1859 – 16 April 1914), who published under the name "S. R. Crockett", was a Scottish novelist.


He was born at Duchrae, Balmaghie, Kirkcudbrightshire, on 24 September 1859, the illegitimate son of dairymaid Annie Crocket. He was raised on his grandfather's Galloway farm, won a bursary to Edinburgh University in 1876,[1] and graduated from there during 1879.[2]

After some years of travel, he became in 1886 minister of Penicuik. During that year he produced his first publication, Dulce Cor (Latin: Sweet Heart), a collection of verse under the pseudonym Ford Brereton. He eventually abandoned the Free Church ministry for full-time novel-writing in 1895.[2]

Bank House, Penicuik: the property was occupied by Crockett around 1886 and J. M. Barrie often stayed with him there

The success of J. M. Barrie and the Kailyard school of sentimental, homey writing had already created a demand for stories in Lowland Scots,[3] when Crockett published his successful story of The Stickit Minister in 1893.[2] It was followed by a rapidly produced series of popular novels frequently featuring the history of Scotland or his native Galloway. Crockett made considerable sums of money from his writing and was a friend and correspondent of R. L. Stevenson.

Crockett's connection with Kailyard is now beginning to be acknowledged as nebulous at best, as evidenced by a re-appraisal of the whole Kailyard concept by writers such as Andrew Nash.[4]

In 1900, Crockett wrote a booklet published by the London camera manufacturer, Newman & Guardia, comparing cameras favourably to pen and pencil and explaining how he encountered the N and G advertisement.[5]

Crockett was well travelled in Europe and beyond, spending time in most European countries and he wrote several novels of European history including The Red Axe (1898), A Tatter of Scarlet (1913), and the non fiction The Adventurer in Spain (1903).

His later work has been criticised as being over-prolific and feebly sentimental.[1]

He died in France on 16 April 1914. The subsequent outbreak of the First World War meant a delay in his remains being buried in his home kirkyard at Balmaghie. A memorial to him was erected in Laurieston by public subscription in 1932. There is inconclusive but suggestive evidence that in the final dozen or so years of his life he cohabited with Scottish actress, Evelyn Campbell, spending winter months with her in southern France.[6]

Legacy and influence[edit]

  • A monument to Crockett can be seen at Laurieston, near Castle Douglas, Kirkcudbrightshire. His papers are held by Edinburgh University.[7] A biography of S.R. Crockett was published in 1991, by Dr. Islay Donaldson.
  • In 2014 The Galloway Raiders [1] was set up as a literary society and online presence to explore his life and work and restore his credibility as one of Scotland's great writers. The Galloway Raiders also holds two archives of Crockett material; that of his biographer Dr Islay Donaldson, 'The Donaldson Archive' and Crockett scholar Richard D. Jackston 'The Jackson archive'.
  • J. R. R. Tolkien credits him as an influence on his wolf-fight scenes: "the episode of the 'wargs' (I believe) is in part derived from a scene in S. R. Crockett's The Black Douglas, probably his best romance and anyway one that deeply impressed me in school-days".[8]


Caricature of author Samuel Rutherford Crockett from the 5 August 1897 issue of Vanity Fair
Crockett's Hal o’ the Ironsides was originally published in The Argosy in 1914

A full list of Crockett's published works (67 volumes) is published online by The Galloway Raiders [2] A substantial number of his works have been republished since the 100th anniversary of his death and are available as print or digital versions. The list below is not comprehensive:

See also[edit]

Notes and references[edit]

  1. ^ The Raiders concerns the historical Gypsy leader John Faa, who Philip Pullman also fictionalized, much later, as a character in His Dark Materials.
  2. ^ The Black Douglas features Gilles de Retz, the associate of Joan of Arc and the reputed origin of Bluebeard.[9]
  1. ^ a b Daiches 1971, p. 127.
  2. ^ a b c Chisholm 1911.
  3. ^ Ousby 1995, p. 503.
  4. ^ Nash 2007, Ch 3. S.R. Crockett Romancing Galloway.
  5. ^ "Ex Cathedra". British Journal of Photography. XLVII (2098): 450. 20 July 1900.
  6. ^ Rex 2016, p. 80-84.
  7. ^ "The papers of Samuel Rutherford Crockett". Edinburgh University. Archived from the original on 5 August 2013. Retrieved 4 January 2012.
  8. ^ Rateliff & Tolkien 2007, p. 216.
  9. ^ Rateliff & Tolkien 2007, pp. 216, 224.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]