Tour Scotland
Home Page

Andrew Lang (1844-1912) - Writer, Journalist

He was born in Selkirk on 31st March 1844, the son of the Sheriff-Clerk of Selkirkshire. He came from an old-established Borders family; his grandfather had been Sheriff-Clerk to Sir Walter Scott and his mother was the daughter of Patrick Sellar, the infamous factor to the Duke of Sutherland. At the age of ten Lang was sent to the Edinburgh Academy and remained there until 1861, when he matriculated at the University of St Andrews. He started writing poetry while at university and retained an affection for the town, which can be felt in his poem 'Almae matres' (1887) and in his history St Andrews (1893). In 1863 he spent a year at the University of Glasgow where he won a Snell Exhibition to Balliol
College, Oxford; graduating with a first in Greats in 1868, he became a Fellow of Merton College and remained there until 1874, studying myth, ritual and totemism. During his time at Oxford, Lang became involved with the Rondeliers, a group of poets, encouraged by Swinburne, who were fascinated by intricate stanza forms. He published his best collection, Ballads and Lyrics of Old France, in 1872. Although he never lost the urge to be a poet, his later collections, such as XXII Ballades in Blue China (1880), Rhymes a la mode (1884) and Grass of Parnassus (1888), are memorable only for their elegant French rhyming structure. After his death Lang's wife published an incomplete four-volume Poetical Works (1923).

In 1875 Lang left Merton for London, where he spent most of his life except in later years, when he wintered in St Andrews. He married Leonore Blanche Alleyne on 17 April 1875. Once settled in London, Lang quickly became one of the most successful and best-known journalists and men of letters of his day. He wrote leaders for the Daily News and a column, 'At the Sign of the Ship', for Longman's Magazine, and he was an influential reviewer and publisher's reader. Among his friends were Robert Louis Stevenson, Sidney Colvin and W. E. Henley, who called him 'the divine amateur'. Although he enjoyed considerable fame and power, he was an implacable critic of the contemporary novel and attacked the work of Henry James and Thomas Hardy. Lang's work as an anthropologist deserves attention: his Myth, Ritual and Religion (1887) is a thorough examination of primitive mythologies, and he retained an interest in psychical phenomena, putting forward in The Making of Religion (1898) the theory of animism as the basis of religion. Out of his studies came the 'coloured' fairy books, blue, red, crimson, lilac, collected in My own Fairy Book (1895), which enjoyed a wide popularity. He also wrote a number of fairy stories of some charm, including The Gold of Faimilee (1888) and Prince Prigio (1889). Of Lang's books of scholarship, Books and Bookmen and Letters to Dead Authors (both 1886) are monuments to the style of fin de siecle men of letters, but most of his books are marred
by his acceptance of received opinion and lack of research. In 1879 he co-operated in the translation of the Odyssey and in 1883 of the Iliad. He died on 20 July 1912.

Works: Ballads and Lyrics of Old France (1872);Aristorle's Politics (1877); Odyssey, Book VI (1877); The Folklore of France (1878); The Odyssey of Homer (1879); Oxford (1879); Specimen of a Translation of Theocritus (1879); XXII Ballades in Blue China (1880); Theocritus, Bion and Moschus (1880); XXXII Ballades in Blue China (1881); The Library (1881); Notes on Pictures by Millais (1881); The Black Thief (1882); Helen of Troy (1882); The Iliad of Homer (1883); Ballades and Verses Vain (1884); Custom and Myth (1884 );Much Darker Days (1884); The Princess Nobody (1884); Rhymes a la Mode (1884); That very Mab (1885); Letters to Dead Authors (1886); Books and Bookmen (1886); In the Wrong Paradise (1886); Lines on the Shelley Society (1886); The Mark of Cain (1886); La mythologie (1886); Politic.s of Aristotle (1886); Almae matres (1887); Aucassin and Nicolette (1887); Cupid and Psyche (1887); He (1887); Johnny
Nut and the Golden Goose (1887); Myth, Ritual and Religion (1887); The Gold of Faimilee (1888); Grass of Parnassus (1888); Renault's Popular Tales (1888); Pictures at Play (1888); ed., The Blue Fairy Book (1889); The Dead Leman (1889); Letters on Literature (1889); Lost Leaders (1889); Ode to Golf (1889); Prince Prigio (1889); Etudes tradidonnists (1890); How to Fail in Literature (1890); Old Friends (1890); ed., The Red Fairy Book (1890); Sir Stafford Northcote: Life, Letters and Diaries (1890); The World's Desire (1890), ed., The Blue Fairy Book (1891); Essays in Little (1891); On Calais Sands (1891); Angling Sketches (1891); Grass of Parnassus: First and Last Rhymes (1892); ed., The Green Fairy Book (1892); ed.. The Waverley Novels (1892); William Young Sellar (1892); Homer and the Epic (1893); Kirk's Secret Commonwealth (1893); Prince Ricardo of
Pantouflia (1893); StAndrews (1893); The Tercentenary of kaak Walton (1893); ed., The True Story Book (1893); Ban and arriere Ban (1894); CockLane and Common Sense (1895); Memoir of R. F. Murray (1894); ed.. The Yellow Fairy Book (1894); My own Fairy Book (1895); ed., The Red True Story Book (1895); The Voices of Jeanne D'Arc (1895); The Life and Letters of John Gibson Lockhart, 2 vols. (1896); A Monk of Fife (1896); A Book of Dreams and Ghosts (1897); Miracles of Madame Saint Catherine of Fierbois (1897); Modem Mythology (1897); Pickle the Spy (1897); ed.. The Pink Fairy Book (1897); ed., Arabian Night's Entertainments (1898); The Companions of Pickle (1898); The Making of Religion (1898); Selections from Coleridge (1898); Waiting on the Glesca Train (1898); Homeric Poems (1899); Parson Kelly (1899); ed., The Red Book of Animal Stories (1899); ed., The Grey Fairy Book (1900); A History of Scotland, vol. 1 (1900); Notes and Names in Books (1900); Prince Charles Edward Stewart (1900); Alfred Tennyson (1901); Magic and Religion (1901); The Mystery of Mary Stuart (1901); ed., The Violet Fairy Book (1901); ed., The Book of Romance (1902); The Disentanglers (1902); The Young Ruthvens (.1902); ed.. The Gowrie Conspiracy: the Confessions of Sprott (1902); A History of Scotland, vol.2 (1902);James VI and the Gowrie Mystery (1902);ed., The Crimson Fairy Book (1903); Lyrics (1903); ed., Social England Illustrated (1903); Social Origins (1903); The Story of the Golden Fleece (1903); The Valet's Tragedy (l903);ed., The Brown Fairy Book (1904); Historical Mysteries (1904); A History of Scotland, vol.3 (1904); New Collected Rhymes (1904); Adventures among Books (1905); The Clyde Mystery (1905); John Knox and the Reformation (1905); The Pusle of Dickens's Last Plot (1905); ed., The Red Book of Romance (1905); The Secret of the Totem (1905); Homer and his Age (1906); Life of Sir Walter Scott (1906); The Story of Joan of Arc (1906); New and Old Letters to Dead Authors (1906); ed., The Orange Fairy Book (1906); Portraits and Jewels of Mary Queen of Scots (1906); A History of Scotland, vol.4 (1907); The King over the Water (1907); ed., The Olive Fairy Book (1907); Tales of a Fairy Court (1907); Tales of Troy and Greece (1907); ed., The Book of Princes and Princesses (1908); The Maid of France (1908); Origins of Religion (1908); Origins of Terms of Human Relationship (1908); ed., Select Poems of Joan Ingelow (1908); Three Poets of French Bohemia (1908); Sir George Mackenzie, King's Advocate, of Rosehaugh: his Life and Times (1909); ed.. The Red Book of Heroes (1909); La vie de Jeanne d'Arc de M. Anatole France (1909); Does Ridicule Kill' (1910); ed.. The Lilac Fairy Book (1910); Sir Walter Scott and the Border Minstrelsy (1910); The World of Homer (1910); ed., All Sorts of Stories Book (1911); Ballades and Rhymes (1911); Method in the Study of Totemism (1911); A Short History of Scotland (1911); ed.. The Book of Saints and Heroes (l912);A History of English Literature (1912); In Praise of Frugality (1912); Ode on a Distant Memory of Jane Eyre (1912); Ode to the Opening Century (1912); Shakespeare, Bacon and the Great Unknown (1912); Highways and Byways on the Border (1913); ed., The Strange Story Book (1913); Poetical Works, 4 vols. (1923).

Return To Famous Scots

Tour Scotland
Tour Edinburgh
Tour Island Of Skye

Rent A Self Catering Hoilday Cottage In Scotland

Share This Tour Scotland Web Page

Top Destinations
Tour Europe