Box icon James Hogg (1770-1835)

Struggling poet and novelist

Portrait of James Hogg

James Hogg was a farmer, who despite a lack of formal education hoped to become a famous writer and poet. Due to his rustic background he became known as 'the Ettrick Shepherd'.

Hogg's poetry, including 'Pilgrims of the Sun' (1815) and 'The Queen's Wake' (1813), was well received by literary critics but he earned only reasonably small amounts from his writing. Hogg's works were published by John Murray II and by numerous Edinburgh publishers including Constable, Oliver & Boyd, and Blackwood.

Although Hogg's 'Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner,' published by Longmans, is now widely considered a classic, during Hogg's lifetime it did not enjoy any critical success and had very few sales.

As Hogg was often struggling financially he frequently wrote to John Murray II regarding money. Also Hogg was friends with many of Murray's literary circle, including Lord Byron and Sir Walter Scott, and he often discussed them.

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NRA name: Hogg, James (1770-1835), poet and novelist.

The National Register of Archives (NRA) contains information on the nature and location of manuscripts and historical records that relate to British history in archival holdings in the UK and overseas. You can find more information on the National Register of Archives name authority catalogue.


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'What the dunce have you made of my excellent poem that you are never publishing it while I am starving for want of money and cannot even afford a Christmass goose to my friends?'
– Letter from Hogg to Murray, 26 December 1814.


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