The Edinburgh Works of Allan Ramsay

Lead Research Organisation: University of Glasgow
Department Name: College of Arts


RQ: How will the first full textual edition of the works of Allan Ramsay enable us to define the development of Romanticism, Enlightenment, ballad opera and literary Scots in the eighteenth century?

R Context: The Works of Allan Ramsay is the first full and consistent scholarly edition of the works of Allan Ramsay (1684-1758), the poet, early Romantic song-collector and cultural entrepreneur, creator of the first established theatre in modern Scotland and probably the first subscription library in the UK. There is one existing textual edition, which is the Martin, Oliver, Kinghorn and Law edition (1945-74). This was assembled by a diverse group of editors without a single unifying textual policy over time. Not only does it not always have a consistent approach to textual editing: it also often does not utilize extant MS readings, and further MS readings (and 130 MSS) have of course come to light since its publication. More can be expected to be identified once an edition is under way: the Burns edition has now identified 160 new MSS not known at the time of the publication of the relevant volume of The Index for English Literary Manuscripts. The Index entry on Ramsay notes the current edition's serious limitations and inadequacy as a scholarly text in uncompromising terms:

...deeply flawed as a scholarly edition. It is badly organised;
its transcription of unacceptably inaccurate; its contents
pages, titling, indexes and apparatus are variously inadequate,
inconsistent and error-ridden. (IELM II:3, 172)

R methods: There is in no sense, then, a satisfactory textual edition of Ramsay extant. The 'Edinburgh Ramsay' (under contract with Edinburgh University Press, together with supporting monograph) is based on new archival research and is a comprehensive scholarly annotated edition based on contemporary textual editing methods (the PI's work in this area has been described as setting 'new standards for primary research in eighteenth-century song-texts'), with the addition of primary research supportive of both scholarly and KE/Impact outcomes under the University of Glasgow strategy ( The 'Works' will deal fully for the first time with Ramsay's use of music and the issues raised for the development of Scottish song and its historic performance more generally. The 'Works' will make Ramsay's texts readily available for the first time in many years. Associated web learning resources (including Scottish Qualification Authority relevant resources for schools thanks to the link between Education Scotland's Curriculum for Excellence resources and the University of Glasgow) will support the development of a separate paperback edition of the Poems.

The 'Works' will be accompanied by a volume devoted to the contexts and themes of Ramsay's Edinburgh: art, music, politics, urban environment and many others. This will be supported by a web resource on Ramsay's Edinburgh, which will include an online bibliography, song performances (including historically informed ones) , a section on people and clubs of Ramsay's Edinburgh, a prosopographical study of the subscription list for Poems (1721) and a resource on Ramsay's reception. A concert will be arranged to complement the online song recordings. Reflective scholarly material will accompany recordings.

We will also work with external partners, including an exhibition with the National Library with an accompanying symposium highlighting their Ramsay treasures. We will work with the National Galleries of Scotland on their collections policy in the new £17M Celebrating Scotland's Art project CAPEX based on our research findings on the art trade in Edinburgh, and with the University of South Carolina on collections development. We will also lead the continuing development of the Allan Ramsay Literary Festival at the Allan Ramsay Hotel, Carlops (http://www.allanramsayhotel).

Planned Impact

Beneficiaries from this research and means by which they might benefit:

Who might benefit from this research ?

1. The academic and educational community in language, literature and history.
How might they benefit ? Through the creation for the first time of a stable and accurate text of Allan Ramsay's work, a paperback original monograph, a companion volume and online resources, with a paperback selected poems to follow. The special journal issues planned include Studies in Scottish Literature, a gold open access pioneer, which had 170000 downloads in 2015 alone. This special number will focus both on the editing of Ramsay and his significance to Romanticism, Enlightenment, song collecting and ballad opera.

2. The academic and educational community in music.
How? Through the first study of the genesis and development of the music for Ramsay's song collecting, and through the recording of historically informed performances.

3. Schools.
How? through the dissemination of an advanced Edinburgh in the First Age of Enlightenment web resource by our partners in Education Scotland, and specifically through the songs and the 'Ramsay's Edinburgh' resources.

4. National institutions, the community in Penicuik and Edinburgh, tourists and the public
How? Through media, web resources, concert and song recordings, and through the Allan Ramsay Festival, the development of tourist trails and associated tourism and community economic benefit, and also via the National Library Treasures exhibition and National Gallery new £17M CAPEX development where PI is an advisor.

5. Public and charitable agencies and the third sector will benefit.
How? From exhibitions and their digital links, e.g. . The National Library of Scotland, National Galleries of Scotland and Glasgow Museums are partners in an overall developing research strategy with the University of Glasgo chaired by the PI, presented to the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, in Glasgow on 11 November 2016. It is the PI's intention that the Ramsay Project will share in the benefits of this development through partnership with the National Library of Scotland and National Galleries of Scotland on the KE committee. New research underpinning £17M Scottish Galleries development will be available to 1.4M visitors a year.

6. The media.
How? The PI will set up a Comms strategy with the University of Glasgow Comms office. Media coverage will also provide an opportunity for project staff: the PI's RA on the Editing Burns project recently (February 2016) reached the top 5% of academia edu for media citation, while the PI has repeatedly had top 10 University of Glasgow quarterly media coverage stories from previous AHRC projects and has appeared in the media in 50 countries.

7. Practitioner groups and festivals such as TMSA (Traditional Music) and Celtic Connections.
How? The project's research on the origins of song tunes and their historically informed performance will widen traditional performers' repertoire. The PIs close engagement with Glasgow Life will support this dissemination.

8. The Scottish economy.
How? Through expanded cultural tourism to Ramsay and Edinburgh. The ' Ramsay's Edinburgh' section of the website (will be offered to VisitScotland (the PI knows the Head of Partnership Communications, Jenni Steele), who will also be engaged with the Ramsay trail development, now under way (first tranche launched at Ramsay Festival 2016). The PI's Royal Society of Edinburgh scoping project has already been adjudged as meeting Scottish Government priorities in tourism, international profile raising and economic development, while his previous research is now accessible via the Scottish Government's official welcome website:


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Brown, Rhona (2018) 'The Afterlives of Allan Ramsay in the British Periodical Press, 1720-1870' in Scottish Literary Review

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Lamont, C. (2018) 'Allan Ramsay in Edinburgh: Commemoration in the City of Forgetting' in Scottish Literary Review

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McGuinness, D (2018) Ramsay's Musical Sources in Scottish Literary Review

Title Concerto Caledonia concert 
Description Concert at 8th Congress of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh on alcohol policy 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2018 
Impact None known 
Title Concerto Caledonia period ceilidh; music of Allan Ramsay era concert 
Description In 2016 as part of the Allan Ramsay Festival, a Historically Informed Performance Practice session of music and songs from Allan Ramsay and his contemporaries was produced; Robyn Stapleton (BBC Young Trad Musician of the Year 2014) was the lead singer. In 2018, Concerto Caledonia put on a 3 hour ceilidh of dances from between 1698 and 1723 performed in Edinburgh for the community round Penicuik as part of the Ramsay Festival. These dances (with a guide to the steps) were subsequently passed over into community use. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2016 
Impact The Midlothian & Borders Tourism Action Group bid (successful) from the Ramsay Hotel for the development of a literary and cultural tour of the Borders, with music. 
Description The role and reach of Allan Ramsay in the development of the Enlightenment (see the PI's Enlightenment in a Smart City, featured in Glasgow and Edinburgh Book Festivals, Royal Society of Arts Scotland special Smart City event, Aberdeen May Festival, lectures in Amiens, Edinburgh, National Gallery of Scotland, UC Berkeley)

Findings and resources summed up at
Exploitation Route They already are being through a tourism development award via Midlothian & Borders Tourism Action Group

They have also significantly advanced the scholarship and our understanding of the relation of music and poetry in Ramsay's work, also issues of classical, traditional or mixed styles of performance in ballad opera
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Creative Economy,Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description In developing literary tourism (including the co-creation of Ramsay Edinburgh and Borders trails and the rebranding of New Hall as a 'Gentle Shepherd' venue). Produce branding- Maggie Johnston's Tuppenny Ale from Stewart's Brewery- has also been involved.
First Year Of Impact 2018
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Creative Economy,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections,Retail
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

Description Organization of Allan Ramsay Festival, 2016- Public lectures (Carlops, Penicuik House), Community ceilidh of pre 1725 Scottish dances with Concerto Caledonia, Scenes from the Gentle Shepherd in classical and trad form 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact See above in title line
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017,2018