Ten “New” Gems

Filed under: Site News; in the year 2019, on the 21st day of February at 11:35 am

I’ve added ten new poetic gems to the site, that come fresh from holdings of the Dundee Central Library. The library has a considerable collection of McGonagalia, including 41 manuscripts written in the poet’s own hand. But more treasures lie among their huge assemblage of 344 broadsheets, once hawked by the great man himself on the streets of Dundee.

McGonagall only produced two books of poems in his lifetime, the first and second volumes of Poetic Gems, published in 1890 and 1891 respectively. His usual practice was to have broadsheets printed with just one or two poems on them, that he could sell on the street for a penny or two. It is from these broadsheets that the content of all subsequent volumes of “gems” have been drawn.

But some have still managed to slip through the net. This latest trove brings their number up to 40, and the overall number of gems on the site to 257. Is that it? Is that the completion of Absolutely Final Poetic Gems? No it isn’t. I’m aware of one broadsheet, sold at auction a decade ago, that I don’t have in my collection, no doubt there are others out there too.

So, without further ado, here are ten works of dubious poetic genius, unseen outside the library’s reading room for over a century:

Taken as a whole, the selection makes quite a representative sample of the great man’s oeuvre. We have two dedicated to places in Scotland, and two describing appearances of Her Majesty in all the excruciating detail McGonagall could muster. Then there are two historical works: one involving, curiously, Willie’s only known portrayal of Mary Queen of Scots (whose life story could have furnished him with subject matter for a whole book of disastrous gems), the other concerns a spectacularly unsuccessful pirate. Two local clergymen are celebrated, one posthumously after his habit of bathing “at dangerous places where other swimmers were afraid” finally catches up with him. Finally, we have two moral tales, the main moral being “don’t be poor in Victorian Scotland.”

I hope these offerings entertain, and help distract from our current catalogue of disasters. Let me know what you think…

New Look for Gem of the Day

Filed under: Site News; in the year 2019, on the 13th day of February at 8:32 pm

If you are a subscriber to the “Gem of the Day” service, you should notice a difference the next time your regular dose of literary lunacy hits your inbox. The Gem of the Day post office has finally entered the 21st century, and is sending out Gems in HTML format instead of plain text. This means they look more like they do on the website, provided you have a reasonably up-to-date email client that can handle such things. Basic email clients (such as you may find on some phones) will still show the plain text version.

Another innovation is that a “What’s new this week” section has been added to the email. A list of content added in the last seven days (when there is any) will appear in just below the daily Gem. The “What’s New” box on the website home page will continue to show the five most recent additions, regardless of how old they are.

If, for some strange reason, you’re haven’t yet signed up to receive a regular dose of McGonagall (you can choose which day(s) of the week a Gem is sent to you), you should register now! Your email address and other details will not be passed on to anyone else – it’s bad enough receiving McGonagall poetry in your inbox without getting a load of spam too!

I hope people like the changes I’ve made, let me know what you think in the comments below.