MacFarlan, James

(1832-1862)
   Born in Glasgow, the son of a weaver and pedlar, he was largely self-educated, through the subscription library. By the age of twenty, his poetry had acquired the sort of reputation that secured him a post at the Glasgow Athenæum (which in 1968 became the Royal Scottish Academy for Music and Drama). Possibly feeling hemmed in by the big city, he returned to the life of a peddler. Struggling against tuberculosis, poverty, and neglect, he found employment as a police-court reporter to the weekly Glasgow Bulletin and contributed short stories to the paper. Charles Dickens (see entry) printed several of Macfarlan's poems in Household Words. In 1859, William Makepeace Thackeray (see entry), on hearing Samuel Lover (see entry) recite Macfarlan's poem, Lords of Labour, likened him to Robert Burns. Macfarlan was buried in Cheapside Cemetery, Anderston, Glasgow, and a tombstone was erected by his admirers in 1885. He published a poetic tract The Wanderers of the West (no date). His poems were written in fluent English rather than in the Scots dialect. His other poetry publications: Poems: Pictures of the Past, 1854. City Songs, and Other Poetical Pieces, 1855. Lyrics of Life, 1856.
   Sources: Dictionary of National Biography. Electronic Edition 1.1. Oxford University Press, 1997.

British and Irish poets. A biographical dictionary. . 2015.

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