UK

Family donates ‘lost’ manuscript of classic Scottish novel to university archive

The Dear Green Place by Archie Hind was published in 1966.

The novel by Archie Hind was published in 1966
Archie Hind The novel by Archie Hind was published in 1966

The long lost manuscript of a book considered “one of the most important” Scottish novels of the 20th century has been donated to university archives by the author’s family.

The manuscript of The Dear Green Place by Archie Hind, published in 1966, was previously assumed to have been lost, or perhaps burned.

However it has now been donated to the University of Strathclyde’s archives by Hind’s family, as a relative was clearing out while preparing to move abroad and was searching for somewhere to place it.

Correspondence with family, friends, colleagues and publishers, photographs and scrapbooks have also been donated, including letters between Hind and the late writer and artist Alasdair Gray, a close friend of his.

Hind also published numerous plays and short stories, as well as many reviews and articles, but had no other novels published in his lifetime.

Eleanor Bell, senior lecturer in English at Strathclyde’s Department of Humanities, said: “While The Dear Green Place is widely regarded as one of the most important Scottish novels of the 20th century, few resources exist on Hind’s work.

“The manuscript of his famous novel was often assumed to be lost, or perhaps burned, so imagine our excitement when we discovered that not only was the manuscript still in existence, but also many other significant papers relating to his life and work.

“As implied by its title, The Dear Green Place demonstrates a deep connection with, as well as a deep love for, the city of Glasgow. However, its vision is far from romantic.”

Hind was born in the Carntyne area of Glasgow in 1928 and left school at 14 to work as a clerk for an engineering firm.

He later worked as a trolley-bus driver and a slaughterhouse labourer before enrolling in evening classes in literature.

He studied at Newbattle Abbey College, where he studied under the poet Edwin Muir, and later worked as a newspaper copy-taker.

The Dear Green Place is set in Glasgow
View of Glasgow The Dear Green Place is set in Glasgow (Danny Lawson/PA)

The Dear Green Place, which is largely autobiographical, tells the story of the life of Mat Craig, an aspiring writer living in the east end of Glasgow, and the moral and artistic dilemmas his ambitions create for him.

The novel won Hind several awards, including the Guardian Fiction Prize and the Scottish PEN Frederick Niven Award.

A second novel, Fur Sadie, remained unfinished at the time of his death in 2008, although it was published posthumously in incomplete form.

In a statement, the Hind family said: “It took a while for us to gather together Archie’s work as it was scattered everywhere among family photos, papers, boxes and even amongst piano partitions.

“Our parents weren’t known for their executive function skills but they had kept more than we had hoped for, albeit in a haphazard manner.

“We had almost given up the search for someone or somewhere to take it, as several places had been contacted but had come to nothing. We found Dr Bell by a series of fortunate events and a chance meeting – just as the boxes of old papers were about to be packed away into yet another dusty cupboard, to lie around for another few decades.

“This would have been such a shame as there were some very interesting bits and pieces. Dr Bell was the first person we approached who responded with genuine enthusiasm, interest and curiosity.

“We are delighted and proud as a family that our father’s body of work is now an archive and in the safe hands of the University of Strathclyde and Dr Bell. We look forward to seeing how this archive evolves.

“We believe that Archie would have appreciated all this and we, his family, are hugely proud that finally his work will now become accessible, can be shared and ultimately valued.”

The university said the manuscript and other material will inform a planned series of events and publications leading up to Hind’s centenary in 2028.