Publisher of the Month: The Saltire Society
When the Saltire Society was founded in 1936 the publication of Scottish books was in the doldrums. It was difficult to find works on Scottish history or literature and one of the Society’s earliest endeavours was to make such material available to teachers, students and the general public at a reasonable price. The advantage which the Society had then and retains today is that as a non profit making organisation with the freely given support of writers and academics it was in a position to deal with subjects which a commercial publisher might shy away from. The decision to publish was based on whether or not the material ought to be in the public domain and not on how much one might make in the process. Today the Society continues with this policy though it has to be said that in the very different publishing climate we now enjoy, Scottish culture is very well served and Saltire has become a small player bringing only three or four titles to the market each year.
Broadly speaking there are three strands to the Society’s publishing policy. The first is to promote aspects of Scottish culture by arguing the case for their promotion and study. Thus we have the ‘Why?’ series starting some years ago with Why Scottish History Matters, a collection of essays by leading Scottish historians arguing the case for the importance of their own particular special areas of interest. This was followed by Derrick McClure’s Why Scots Matters on the history and current significance of the Scots language, Alexander Broadie’s Why Scottish Philosophy Matters and Carla Sassi’s Why Scottish Literature Matters. Work in progress includes broadcasting, Gaelic and music which we hope to publish over the next year or so.
The second strand involves ensuring that classic works, perhaps the lesser masterpieces, by great writers are brought back into print. Recent examples include John Galt’s three books in one volume, Annals of the Parish, the Provost and the Ayrshire Legatees followed by J. M Barrie’s A Window in Thrums and J G Lockhart’s Adam Blair which has just come out. In addition we produced a translation of George Buchanan’s Latin classic De Iure Regni Apud Scotus Dialogus, on the law of kingship, with a detailed commentary by Professor Roger Mason.These are usually produced in response to representations from academics who find it difficult to obtain copies for their students. In this way the Society is continuing its original remit to fill gaps in the publishing market without worrying unduly about the financial risks involved.
The third area of interest might best be described as cultural commentary on Scotland’s condition, how it got to where it is and where it might be heading in the future. We are fortunate in being able to publish the work of Paul Henderson Scott who is one of the country’s leading scholars and a writer on history and literature, and the relationship of both to modern politics. We have published a number of collections of his essays and articles including Still in Bed with an Elephant, The Boasted Advantages, Scotland Resurgent and, forthcoming, An Age of Liberation. Last year his book The Union, Why and How was the bestselling Saltire book for several years. In 1999 we published Scotland Reclaimed by Murray Ritchie about the build up to the restoration of the Scottish Parliament and also a series of lectures by leading academics offered in honour of Andrew Fletcher and called The Saltoun Papers.
Of course there have been, and will continue to be, books which fall out with these three categories. We have, for example in recent years, produced a new edition of A Scottish Postbag with eight centuries of Scottish letters, a translation of Lord David Elcho’s diary on the events before and after the Jacobite Rising in Elcho of the ’45, A Scots Grammar by David Purves, a history of the Justices of the Peace in Scotland by Johan Findlay called All Manner of People, John S Gibson’s Edinburgh and the ‘45 and Ian Grimble’s Strathnaver Trilogy: The Trial of Patrick Sellar, The Chief of Mackay and The World of Rob Donn. One of our most important recent projects involved publishing autobiographical essays by thirty of the 20th century’s most influential Scots – writers, musicians, artists and philosophers – under the appropriate title Spirits of the Age.
At present we do not publish poetry and this has been of concern to us for some time. Some of our earliest and most important publications brought the works of the Scots Renaissance poets to a wide audience and we would like to do more in the future. However we do not expect to expand much beyond our present level of publication though we will continue to address gaps in the market where we find them. Our aim has always been to stimulate an interest in Scotland and its culture among our own people as well as those from out with the country who share a love of all things Scottish. As long as we feel we can make a difference we will continue to play our part.
- The Boasted Advantages - - Paperback
The question of Scottish independence has been raging since the Union with England in 1707. This book examines the advantages and disadvantages of the Union, and concludes that the way forward for Scotland is as an independent nation in Europe.
- Edinburgh In The '45: Bonnie Prince Charlie At Holyroodhouse - - Paperback
This is a dramatic story with the Prince's bloody victory at the Battle of Prestonpans and the inside story of the stormy debates at Holyrood that preceded the march into England. It has its humorous side too, as the Highlands met Lowlands on the streets.
- Add to BasketThe Saltoun Papers: Reflections On Andrew Fletcher - Paperback
Each September since the 1960s Andrew Fletcher 'The Patriot', has been commemorated by a short lecture in East Saltoun Parish Church where he is buried. In this text 15 of these talks selected from the years 1979 to 1999 are reproduced.
- Add to BasketScotland Resurgent: Comments On The Cultural And Political Revival Of Scotland - - Paperback
This is Paul Scott's fourth collection of essays, articles, letters, speeches and reviews covering the previous two decades, when the political and cultural resurgence of Scotland was at its height.
- A Window In Thrums - - Paperback
This is the second in J.M. Barrie's portraits of rural life in 19th century Scotland. This edition features a new introduction by Professor Ian Campbell.
- Add to BasketThe World Of Rob Donn - - Paperback
Grimble uses the life and work of an 18th century oral Gaelic poet to demonstrate the vitality of the Gaelic way of life before the Highland Clearances. All the poems appear both in Gaelic and in revised English translations