Before writing Peter Pan, the author and playwright J M Barrie (1860-1937), took inspiration from his mother’s childhood in rural Scotland to publish collections of stories, including A window in Thrums (1889). He was keen to present them as imaginative works, rather than documentary fact, but faced criticism that such writing presented a narrow, sentimental view of Scottish life which used local dialect for cosmetic effect. Barrie and other authors were attacked and dismissed using the now much-debated term ‘kailyard’, by contemporaries and later critics, including Hugh MacDiarmid in the early 20th century.
On the other hand, the composer Learmont Drysdale (1866-1909) was respected by many leading figures in music, both for his own compositions and for his settings of Scots lyrics and folk-song arrangements. The example here uses the words of poet and novelist James Hogg (1770-1835), characterised in his own lifetime as the ‘Ettrick Shepherd’. Arguably, Drysdale’s work served to preserve and disseminate Scottish poetry and music. At the same time, such collections of ‘Scots songs’ may be seen as expressions of an idealised view of Scotland, made fashionable in part by Queen Victoria’s passion for the country.