Campbell Collection


Campbell Collection


The collection was formed by John Francis Campbell of Islay (1821?-1885), author, scholar and folklorist. It comprises 610 printed items in 270 volumes, as well as his manuscripts, and a collection of maps. The printed material in the collection consists of books, pamphlets, periodicals and offprints dating from the late 18th and the early 19th century, and is largely concerned with Highland folklore, Ossianic literature, and related Celtic subjects. Many of the volumes are annotated in Campbell's own hand with his pithy and pertinent comments, and some are further illustrated with his own photographs. Although best known for collecting the Gaelic folklore of the West Highlands, published in the four-volume work 'Popular Tales of the West Highlands',(Edinburgh, 1860-1862), Campbell was a man of wide interests. He travelled in Scandinavia, and in 1874 he did a year-long world tour that took him to America, Japan, China, Java, Ceylon and India. His manuscript collection contains his lively journals and sketch-books, which record the landscapes and customs of the countries he visited.


The books have been catalogued individually and have the shelfmark 'Cam.'.


The collection was bequeathed to the Advocates Library by John Francis Campbell and received after his death. Ownership was transferred to the National Library on its foundation in 1925.

Related collections

The manuscripts are held at Adv.MSS.50.1.1-51.2.7. They consist of Campbell's correspondence, journals and papers, and are bound up into 134 volumes. They are briefly described in the Library's 'Summary Catalogue of the Advocates Manuscripts'. The maps are held as part of the Library's map collections (shelfmark:


'Lamplighter and Story-teller: John Francis Campbell of Islay', 1821-1885 [exhibition catalogue], Edinburgh, 1985.

Online resources

Digital images of the books in the Campbell collection




Celtic studies

Gaelic language and literature

Maps, atlases and mapmaking

Ossian and Ossianic literature


Scandinavian literature

Scottish history and literature