This is an area of the site for articles about McGonagall’s life and works. Some contemporary press reports about his activities can be found in the Life section. If you would like to submit an article for publication here, please contact the webmaster.


A McGonagall Calendar

A list of events commemorated by poetic gems, according to the date on which they occurred.

Gem of the Day Statistics

Some information about the “poetic gems” emailed out daily from this website, and the people that receive them.

Statistical Analysis

Some simple number-crunching in relation to McGonagall’s poetic output.

The McGonagall Map

McGonagall wrote poems about places all over central Scotland, here’s a chance to see them plotted on a map.


Scots Poet William McGonagall Visits America, 1887

This paper, by american academic Ferenc M. Szasz,  was first published in Scotia: Interdisciplinary Journal of Scottish Studies, Vol XVII 1993.

Writers on McGonagall

Alan Bold

Bold was a poet, critic and writer who wrote biographies of Robert Burns and Hugh McDiarmid, as well as editing several anthologies of poetry and prose. In this short extract from his 1983 book Modern Scottish Literature, he makes the case for McGonagall being  “an absolutely outstanding primitive poet”.

Hamish Henderson

This essay by the Scottish poet, song writer, folklorist and critic was first published in folk music magazine Chapbook in 1965.

James Leatham

This (not wholly accurate) profile by writer and publisher James Leatham was published in the Aberdeen Journal in 1933.

Lowden Macartney

Macartney was a Glasgow-based author and seller of poetry, who published the first posthumous collection of McGonagall poems in 1910. This essay is the introduction to that volume.

Hugh MacDiarmid

This essay by the Scottish poet and writer is taken from his book Scottish Eccentrics, published in 1936.

Johnathan Mayne

Art historian and critic Johnathan Mayne wrote this appreciation of the works of McGonagall in the 1953 edition of The Saturday Book

H. V. Morton

Journalist and travel writer H. V. Morton was one of the first people to bring McGonagall to the wider world’s attention, in this passage from In Search of Scotland.

Neil Munro

Munro is probably best remembered today as the author of the Para Handy stories. In this piece from his book The Brave Days, he recalls attending a McGonagall performance in Glasgow.

Stephen Pile

McGonagall’s two entries in Stephen Pile’s original Book of Heroic Failures, published in 1979.

William Power

Power was a journalist and politician who was briefly leader of the Scottish National Party during the war. Here, in a passage from his book My Scotland, he describes a McGonagall performance and some of his work.

Lewis Spence

Spence was a journalist, politician and folklorist who got to know McGonagall well whilst working for Dundee newspapers early in his career. This memoir was first published in Scotland’s SMT Magazine in April 1947.

Other Poets

A London Street Author, or Poet

NOT about William McGonagall, but an interesting account of the life of another (nameless) impoverished poet in Victorian Britain.


Awful Poet who Didn’t Know it

Profile of McGonagall published in the Scotland on Sunday newspaper in 1991.

McGonagall in the Penny Post?

Could McGonagall have been submitting poems to the newspapers a decade before the supposed arrival of the gift of poetry? That’s the intriguing possibility opened up by this discovery by Professor Kirstie Blair.

The Great McGonagall

An early profile from the Sydney Sunday Herald, which incidentally sheds a little light on the origins of his posthumous fame.

The Real McGonagall

Closely-argued article by Gord Bambrick putting forward the theory that McGonagall was a deliberate satirist and comedian, rather than the incompetent of public imagination.

The Tale of a Whale

The true story of the “Famous Tay Whale”, as told through contemporary news reports in the Dundee Courier.

Tribute From Three Students at Glasgow University

A backhanded “tribute” sent to McGonagall by three admirers in 1891.

Who Was the Better Poet? Kipling or William McGongall?

Given that this article was first published in the Kipling Journal, you might be surprised how well our man comes off in the comparison. Article by Shamus Wade.

McGonagall and the Millworkers’ Strike

An early sighting of McGonagall, writing to the People’s Journal in 1875 to protest at the treatment of female strikers (and only possibly because he was married to one of them).

McGonagall on the Internet

A small collection of McGonagall-related links.