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Sabhal Mòr Ostaig’s Library receives Sorley Maclean’s book collection

The Library at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig has recently received a remarkable collection of books belonging to the renowned poet Sorley Maclean. Numbering almost 1,800 titles, the collection includes old family books, prizes from Sorley’s schooldays and presentation copies, in addition to his own personal acquisitions.

Born in Raasay, Sorley Maclean (1911-1996), a champion of the Gaelic language, would go on to become a poet of international stature. He was involved in education for most of his life and was also one of the College’s founding Trustees and one of the first Writers in Residence, making the College an appropriate home for his collection.

The collection is wide-ranging, but covers especially English and Gaelic literature, Highland history and the arts. An outstanding addition to the Library’s holdings, it is also an interesting insight into one of Scotland’s finest poets of the 20th century and will be of great interest to students, researchers and the general public.

Commenting on her father’s collection being placed at SMO, Ishbel Maclean said:  “SMO’s international reputation for Gaelic education and culture makes it the perfect place for Sorley MacLean’s personal collection of books. We are delighted the collection is being kept together in Skye and especially that it will be in the care of the College’s library.  Everyone who comes to the College from Skye and elsewhere will now have access to the books, and the library’s modern facilities will open up the collection internationally to all those who want to learn more about  our father’s life and work.”

The collection was officially unveiled at a reception on Friday 27 July, attended by family and trustees of the Sorley Maclean Trust.

Attending the event was Dr Ann Matheson, Chair of the Library Advisory Committee, who said: ‘Sorley MacLean’s rich personal book collection, with its interest for students, academic staff and the wider world of scholarship and public interest, is a unique acquisition for Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Library, under whose guardianship it will be highly esteemed and cared for both for the present and for future generations’.

Sabhal Mòr Ostaig Principal, Professor Boyd Robertson, who chaired proceedings, commented: ‘The acquisition of this fascinating and eclectic collection of one of the major Scottish literary figures of the 20th century adds lustre to the impressive riches of the College library and it is fitting that the institution with which Sorley was so closely associated should become custodian of this veritable treasure trove’.

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