The Edwin Morgan Papers: Madge’s Album

The cataloguing of the Edwin Morgan Papers that are held in the University of Glasgow’s Special Collections is progressing well.  The focus of today’s post is an unassuming little book found in a box along with Edwin Morgan’s appointment diaries, which has the word ‘Album’ embossed in gold letters across its cover.

Upon opening the book we learn that this volume belonged to ‘Madge M. Arnott [of] “Glencairn”, Motherwell,’ – EM’s mother.  This self-styled title page is dated 23/10/1908, which in turn suggests that it was acquired when she was just 17.  The book offers a glimpse into the young woman’s life that in some way echoes the more contemporary phenomenon of a facebook wall, with Madge’s friends and family posting poems and drawings within its coloured pages.


All the entries are dated, and range between 1908 and 1936, with the vast majority pre-dating WWI, and the sketches in particular are very well executed.  Included within Madge’s circle of friends was ‘Stanley L Morgan [of] Cluniebank, Bearsden,’ – EM’s father, who first signed Madge’s album on 10 November 1909.  The following day he wrote a poem titled ‘The Flirt’, which spoke of his clumsiness with the opposite sex.  Significantly this entry was later annotated in pencil with the word ‘Cancelled’ initialled and dated 24 December 1910.

Madge and Stanley most likely met at their place of work – Arnott, Young & Company.  This was the company of EM’s maternal grandfather, an iron & steel scrap merchants that specialised in ship breaking. Madge worked as the firm’s secretary when Stanley first started as a clerk.  The couple were married 5 years after the pencil annotations in Madge’s Album, which one might assume signified the start of their relationship.

Also included in the Edwin Morgan papers are all the significant documents relating to his parents.  The papers relating to Madge’s death offer a surprisingly complete record, indicating that EM was reluctant to throw anything away, right down to scribbled notes of relevant phone numbers.

Categories: Special Collections

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