In 1962, at the age of 42, the poet Edwin Morgan ‘finally “broke away” from his parents’, leaving his family home at 12 Albert Drive, Burnside, Rutherglen to move into a newly built flat’ in Glasgow’s West End. This new property was also much closer to the University of Glasgow, where Morgan was a lecturer in the English department.
One of the gems from MS Morgan R: Finance, is a folder that details Edwin’s purchase and furnishing of the flat that would become his home for the next 40 years.
Edwin’s offer to the builders MacTaggart & Mickel Ltd for:
that Flatted Dwelling House known as Plot 19 on the layout plan of Whittinghame Court, Kelvinside
was accepted on the 29th May 1961. Shortly thereafter he paid the deposit, securing No. 19.
As he was buying off-plan he was able to request additional items such as extra power points, etc.
Over the following year and a half as the blocks of flats were being built, Edwin went about purchasing the various furnishings for his flat. In addition to brochures and handwritten notes, the collection includes a variety of annotated business cards for different tradesmen and retailers. This includes six separate cards for Wylie & Lochhead, all with a specific name annotated on the front and the nature of their area of expertise, from ‘Jas Sutherland, Carpet Dept’ and ‘Miss Jardine, Lino Dept’ to ‘H.D. Ironside, Curtains’.
After selecting Robb Bros. (Removers) Ltd as his removal company, there were just the last minute jobs of picking up the keys; having the carpet and lino fitted, curtains hung and furniture delivered, before he was able to move in on December 11th 1962.
Undoubtedly Morgan had loved his flat. the rooms and their contents were captured in Hamish Whyte’s essay ‘About the House: Whittinghame Court, 4 July 1989’ written well over 20 years later:
On shelf: B. Nilson, Penguin Cookery Book; Katherine Whitehorn, How to Survive in the Kitchen (a present); more sellotape in dispenser. Anda Paterson painting, The Barras; Colin Baxter Glasgow calendar on wall. Model Viking ship (made by Allan Shearer) on top of cupboard. On work-surface: small Hitachi ghettoblaster; two empty Japanese bowls; wooden fruit bowl with grapefruit and tomatoes; usual plants and a fuchsia rescued from the rubbish (‘doing well against the odds’). On table: file box marked ‘Concrete & Sound Poetry I’. Pulley (which EM had put in).
The Concrete Poetry file box referred to was transferred to the University of Glasgow Library in 2004, along with many other papers, after Morgan moved into a care home towards the end of his life. The box is now listed as part of Edwin Morgan’s papers here, see subject files on Concrete Poetry
In his biography, Beyond the Last Dragon: A Life of Edwin Morgan, James McGonigal stated:
The flat, which I had been visiting for more than thirty years, kept its peaceful and welcoming atmosphere, and a distinctive dry aroma of books. It had been a sanctuary for him and the place where his creativity had flourished, as well as being the venue for many significant meetings with friends and colleagues over four decades.
Please note that an appointment is required to request access to MS Morgan, please contact Special Collections at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Nothing Not Giving Messages: Reflections on Work and Life ed. Hamish Whyte (Polygon, 1990)
James McGonigal Beyond the Last Dragon: A Life of Edwin Morgan (Sandstone Press Ltd, 2010)
Categories: Special Collections