McGonagall’s most famous work describes a railway accident, and his name has been linked with disasters and catastrophes ever since. Whilst the poems on this site should demonstrate that his range of poetic subjects was much greater, the penchant for such calamities is clearly shown below:

Railway Disasters

Then, as now, the railway was one of the safest ways to travel. Rail accidents had a big impact, especially on McGonagall’s career.

Disasters at Sea

Travel aboard ship was a dangerous business in McGonagall’s day. A veteran of a couple of long sea voyages himself, McGonagall would have been well aware of the perils of life aboard ship, whilst news of sinkings in Dundee’s fishing and whaling fleets must have been pretty constant in the local papers.

Fire Disasters

In an era reliant on gas lighting, fire was a constant danger. Dundee, with its warehouses full of textiles, was particularly threatened, and there were several spectacular conflagrations during McGonagall’s time there.

Natural Disasters

Other Disasters

McGonagall was also moved to write about several disastrous battles in his military works.