AHRC awards Allan Ramsay project £1m

AHRC awards Allan Ramsay project £1m

Issued: Sun, 27 Aug 2017 19:00:00 BST

The AHRC has awarded Murray Pittock (Pro Vice-Principal (Special Projects) and Bradley Professor of English Literature) £1M for a major new project dedicated to editing the works of the poet, dramatist and cultural entrepreneur Allan Ramsay (1684-1758), the Lanarkshire writer whose key innovations transformed Edinburgh in the age of Enlightenment.

This award represents more than two per cent of the AHRC’s annual UK responsive grant budget and, on its own, would be among the top 20 HEIs with AHRC income under this heading in 2016. The project builds on an earlier scoping award from the Royal Society of Edinburgh:


Allan Ramsay was the founding writer of Scottish Romanticism, the creator of the term ‘Doric’ to describe Scots and the ancestor of modern Scots vernacular poetry. In developing the first subscription library in the British Isles, Ramsay brought reading to a much wider social segment, including women, while he also played central or major role in the development of art, music and theatre in Scotland. His house, the ‘Gusepye’, on Castlehill in Edinburgh, is now at the centre of Ramsay Garden, the development named after him designed by the later polymath Patrick Geddes. The project will combine a major textual edition of his works with historically informed performance and analysis of the musical settings of Ramsay’s groundbreaking Tea-table Miscellany collection, a book length study of the data and connectivity of Edinburgh’s Enlightenment informed by modern urban studies and innovation theory (Smart City) and a programme of promotion and greater awareness of Ramsay and his son (Allan Ramsay (1713-84), arguably the greatest portraitist of the age) throughout Scottish culture and institutions. All publications of the Edinburgh Ramsay are under contract with Edinburgh University Press. The Ramsay Project is also linked to an annual literary Festival, for which funding and other support has been received from Pub is the Hub, Borders Council, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, Cockburn’s of Leith, Stewart’s Brewery, the National Galleries of Scotland and prominent local landowners. A Historic Environment Scotland plaque in honour of Allan Ramsay has been awarded and installed at the 1792 Allan Ramsay Hotel in Carlops, in the area where he spent much of his life outside the capital. The project will support local economic development through the Festival and other activities, including the development of the ‘cultural hotel’ concept in Scotland and provision of a City of Edinburgh Ramsay trail.

Other colleagues involved from UoG are Rhona Brown, Mungo Campbell, David McGuinness and Craig Lamont, while the project also has team members from Temple University, the University of Manchester, the National Galleries of Scotland, the National Trust for Scotland and the National Library. The NLS, NGS and University of South Carolina are providing institutional partner support. An international advisory committee will be providing advice to the project, and it will be hosted in the University’s Centre for Robert Burns Studies, directed by Professors Gerry Carruthers and Kirsteen McCue.

Professor Murray Pittock said "Allan Ramsay was a fox: he knew and could do many things. Such figures tend to be underestimated, despite the huge impact they often have on society and its institutions. I am delighted that the AHRC have funded this major act of scholarship and cultural recuperation for Ramsay, and look forward to leading this project over the next five years. The editorial and knowledge exchange teams are already engaged in new work on this most successful father and son in Scottish cultural history, foregrounding their importance internationally and in the country they loved’"