James Barke Collection

An extensive collection of books, correspondence and other personal papers, photographs, maps, news cuttings, exam certificates covering many aspects of the writer's life and work.

About James Barke

insert description

James Barke, no date

Born as James Bark in 1905 in Torwoodlea, Selkirk, Barke left school at 14 and worked for shipbuilders Barclay, Curle and Co for 27 years in positions ranging from tea-boy to Chief Cost Accountant. He changed his name to from Bark to Barke during this time and retired in 1946 to concentrate on his writing. Barke was a lifelong Socialist and Nationalist and had many well known Red Clydesider friends.

Barke was well known for his Robert Burns quintet of novels known collectively as The Immortal Memory and was regarded as a great Burns scholar.

Barke was also the first chair of the Unity Theatre Group which was committed to a socialist viewpoint and attracted a working class audience. He edited a 1958 edition of The Merry Muses of Caledonia, with Sydney Goodsir Smith, and John DeLancey Ferguson.

Barke died in Glasgow in 1958.

About the collection

The collection was donated to The Mitchell Library by Barke’s family. It is extensive in nature and covers various aspects of Barke's works/life. Correspondents include: Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Neil Gunn, Ena Lamont Stewart, Hugh MacDiarmid and John Kerr.

Finding aid

insert description

Letter to James Barke from Lewis Grassic Gibbon, 17 May, 1934. On Barke dedicating The End of High Bridge to LGG – ‘I’ve Grey Granite to finish – curse it!’ – on Scottish Scene – ‘We had him [MacDiarmid] out here – he was not admired!’

James Barke Collection finding aid (PDF, 1.4MB)

Further reading

James Barke article in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography

James Barke article in Wikipedia

Contact us

We welcome feedback from library users.

Contact us to let us know how we are doing or if you want to find out more.