One of our projects in Midlothian Local Studies is to catalogue a large collection of pamphlets that once belonged to William Hutton Marwick (1894-1982). Marwick was, amongst other many other accomplishments, professor of Economic History at the University of Edinburgh, a Quaker and committed pacifist. His collection includes many rare pamphlets about politics, economics, social issues, peace and religion.
Amongst the collection are several small manuscript magazines compiled by William Marwick’s father, who was also called William. William Marwick senior was born inEdinburgh in October 1863. He spent his early years in Arbroath and attended Arbroath High School. Later, he went to Edinburgh University and became a Church of Scotland missionary.
As a teenager, Marwick produced his own in-house magazine called The Fairport Journal, which was named after his home in Arbroath. Eight copies of the journal have survived in the Marwick collection. The magazine is hand-written in best copperplate-style and contains short articles by Marwick and his friends.
These magazines provide an extraordinary insight into the intellectual life of a group of Victorian teenagers living in a small Scottish town. This must have been quite a serious-minded group of young people, judging by the articles they wrote and contributed. Amongst these are essays on science, history and literature as well as numerous short stories and poems.
The Fairport Magazine first appeared in October 1876 and consisted of 16 pages. It contained the first chapter of a story by the editor (William Marwick) entitled ‘The Two Young Crusoes’ and another called ‘The Far West’ by Henry Angus, as well as short articles and poems by other contributors. The magazine continued fortnightly until the end of the year when it was announced that a printed version would be available.
In January 1878, the magazine returned to manuscript form. Two of the main contributors were young ladies, Miss E H Smith of Glasgow and Miss M E Angus of Arbroath. The magazine seems to have been distributed only amongst its contributors who were allowed to keep it for three days before passing it on. Probably less than a dozen people ever read it.
It is not clear how much of magazine was original work or simply copied from other sources, but in any case it is hard to imagine anybody, young or old, undertaking a similar venture today.