Hands-On Book History by Mayalani Moes

Mayalani MoesI am a Luxembourgish student currently studying English Literature and Film. I thoroughly enjoy my studies at the University of Dundee, and I will graduate in June 2015.

‘Memorialls’ of William Drummond of Hawthornden


Br. Ms. 2/2/4

William Drummond of Hawthornden was a Scottish poet (1585–1649). He studied at the University of Edinburgh and graduated in 1605. He wrote many literary works, including Cypresse Grove.He donated his book collection to the University of Edinburgh before his death. However, his very personal and detailed ‘Memorialls’ are only to be found in the Brechin Collection at the University of Dundee. We do not know why it ended up in the Brechin Collection. However, the “Memorialls” were written by him and continued by his son, also named William, after his death. However, we do not find any poetry references or indeed any poetry in it. Instead, the focus is firmly on family births, marriages and deaths. William Jr. continues this genealogy with an account of his father’s, uncle’s and mother’s deaths. This commonplace book is very different from what other commonplace books of that time look like. There is no consistency of writings and no chronological account of events, for example. I consider it a diary used on random occasions. What makes the book even more interesting is the presence of a third “author,” i.e. somebody whom we cannot identify as either Drummond Sr. or Jr. was writing in this book as well. This commonplace book/diary shines a new light on William Drummond Sr, the benefactor of the University of Edinburgh, and reader responses in seventeenth-century Scotland more broadly.