Glasgow Ballad Club

The Glasgow Ballad Club Collection

A collection of material on the administrative history of the Glasgow Ballad Club.

About the Glasgow Ballad Club

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Glasgow Ballad Club Scots Pictorial 15 Jan 1902

The Glasgow Ballad Club was constituted in 1876 for the study, production and friendly criticism of ballads and ballad literature, with 'Ballad' being interpreted in a sense sufficiently wide to include lyrical poems. There were 11 original members. A candidate for membership was required to produce samples of work and then be voted on by members.

The Scots Pictorial described the club in 1902: “The club, as a society is probably unique – somewhat in the vein of the Easy Club at which, in the early years of the eighteenth century, Allan Ramsay and his friends used to read their verses and tell their anecdotes.”1

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William Freeland (1828 – 1903), founding president of the club

The Club also organised yearly outings.

Membership was limited to fifty members. Meetings took place monthly in various venues, including Steel’s Hotel, Queen Street, the North British Station Hotel, The Cad’oro Restaurant, The Crown Hotel in George Square, Alexandra Hotel in Bath Street, White Smith’s Restaurant & the Grosvenor Restaurant.

The Glasgow Ballad Club served as a meeting ground for many of Scotland's famous writers. Until 1920, the club was for gentlemen only, although consideration was given to admitting ladies in 1908, 1913 & 1917. Finally in January 1918, it was agreed that women could join as corresponding members, stopping short of allowing them to be ordinary members, who would attend the meetings.

“It was generally felt that members would hardly care to read their own poetry at a promiscuous social gathering, and it was agreed to depart from the suggestion which had been made in that form. It was suggested, however, that Lady corresponding members might be admitted to the club’s membership on the same terms as male members and that a meeting might be arranged once a season at which they might be present and take part.”2

At a meeting in December 1919 Violet Jacob and Barbara Ross MacIntosh were invited to join the club.

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Violet Jacob - Henry Harris Brown, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The club produced 5 editions of poetry, funded by the membership.

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Flora Garry (1900 – 2000), whose poems were published in Glasgow Ballad Club: Ballads and Poems: Fifth Series (1952)

In 1988, the club met for the last time, and the records were deposited in The Mitchell Library.

1Scots Pictorial 15 January 1902
2Minutes of the Glasgow Ballad Club 12 January, 1918

About the collection

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Glasgow Ballad Club Minute Book, 18 November 1876 - 11 January 1907

The collection contains minute books, agenda books and typescript poetry.

Finding aid

Glasgow Ballad Club Collection listing (PDF, 128KB)

Further reading

Glasgow Ballad Club: Ballads and Poems (1885)

Glasgow Ballad Club: Ballads and Poems: Second Series (1898)

Glasgow Ballad Club: Ballads and Poems: Third Series (1908)

Glasgow Ballad Club: Ballads and Poems: Fourth Series (1924)

Glasgow Ballad Club: Ballads and Poems: Fifth Series (1952)

Glasgow Ballad Club, list of known members (PDF, 108KB)

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