William Drummond of Hawthornden



French Rowe Fogle, A Critical Study of William Drummond of Hawthornden, ed. (New York, 1952).


The Poetical Works of William Drummond of Hawthornden, ed. L.E. Kastner, 2 vols, STS NS 3, 4 (Edinburgh & London, 1913).

Laing (1831)

David Laing, ‘A Brief Account of the Hawthornden Manuscripts in the Possession of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland; with Extracts, containing several unpublished Letters and Poems of William Durmmond of Hawthornden’, Transactions of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 4 (1831), 57-116.

Laing (1833)

David Laing, ‘Extracts from the Hawthornden Manuscripts, in the possession of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland’, Transactions of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, 4 (1833), 225-40.

MacDonald (1976)

William Drummond, Poems and Prose, ed. Robert H. MacDonald (Edinburgh & London, 1976).

MacDonald, Library of Drummond

Robert H. MacDonald, The Library of Drummond of Hawthornden (Edinburgh, 1971).

MacDonald, SSL, 7 (1969)

Robert H. MacDonald, ‘Amendments to L. E. Kastner's Edition of Drummond's Poems’, Studies in Scottish Literature, 7 (1969), 102-22.


Eloisa Paganelli, ‘Lettere e Note Inedite di William Drummond of Hawthornden’, English Miscellany, 19 (1968), 295-333.

Poems (1656)

Poems, by that most famous wit, William Drummond of Hawthornden, [ed. Edward Phillips] (London, 1656).

Works (1711)

The Works of William Drummond of Hawthornden (Edinburgh, 1711).


A large collection of Drummond's original papers are preserved, bound in ten volumes, in the National Library of Scotland (MSS 2053-62: Hawthornden Vols. I-X). A few other papers are bound with those of his uncle William Fowler (MSS 2063-7: Hawthornden Vols. XI-XV). They represent the most substantial body of working papers of any British poet of the period. The manuscripts were arranged and bound by the antiquary David Laing (1793-1878) and are described in Laing (1831).


The surviving and identifiable drafts of poems that were published during Drummond's lifetime are recorded in the entries below in the first section (DrW 1-35). All titles and first lines are taken from Kastner.

The far more numerous drafts of poems which Drummond did not consider worth publishing, and which may be called his ‘Posthumous Poems’ (DrW 36-302), present serious editorial problems. Some of these poems were printed from Drummond's papers in Phillips's edition of the Poems (1656); a few more appeared in the collected Works (1711); many more were printed in Laing (1831) and (1833); and others were printed in Kastner (1913). Although this last edition seemed to establish the canon of Drummond's posthumous poems, Kastner did not take account of certain poems among Drummond's papers; moreover, he was inclined to take Drummond's autograph copies as proof of his authorship, whereas Drummond was a habitual copyist of other men's verse. Some of the poems also exist in more than one draft and Kastner failed to make it clear from which he was printing and whether the others contain variant readings. A few poems omitted by Kastner were printed in Fogle (1952), pp. 75, 187-209; some more amendments to Kastner's canon were made in MacDonald, Studies in Scottish Literature, 7 (1969); and two additional poems were printed in MacDonald (1976).

The exact location of two recorded poetical drafts (*DrW 138, *DrW 196) has not been confirmed. A detailed examination of Drummond's voluminous and sometimes barely legible working papers would possibly bring to light these two drafts and more poems.

The Verse Canon

For present purposes the canon accepted here is that established in Kastner, Fogle, and MacDonald (1976), with the addition of three hitherto unpublished pieces (DrW 68, *DrW 74, DrW 94-5), including a Latin poem addressed to Michael Drayton and a draft which is not so much a poem as a list of lines and phrases jotted down for future use, an interesting witness to Drummond's methods of composition. Apart from two widely copied poems here omitted from the canon because they may safely be attributed to Sir Robert Ayton (1570-1638) — the verses “Faire cruel Siluia since thow scornes my teares” (Kastner, II, 269) and “Wer these thine eyes or lightnings from aboue” (Kastner, II, 270) — the entries below include several poems recorded as ‘of doubtful authorship’. Of these — and indeed the least likely to be by Drummond — the most popular in manuscript circulation is the satire on James I For the Kinge (DrW 117.1-117.342), which is often headed ‘The Five Senses’, a parody of Patrico's blessing of the King's senses in Jonson's Gypsies Metamorphosed (see JnB 654-70). Also widely circulated is a less than flattering elegy on Thomas Sackville (d.1608), beginning ‘Vntymlie Death that neither wouldst conferre’, which usually appears in manuscripts in a version beginning ‘Immodest death, that wouldst not once conferre’ (DrW 177-177.233). Again, Drummond's authorship seems unlikely.


The canon of Drummond's prose presents fewer problems. Although only A Cypresse Grove (*DrW 306) was published during his lifetime, and although the Hawthornden Manuscripts include Drummond's copies of works by others (e.g. the speeches on Charles I's visit to Edinburgh in Vol. IX, ff. 162r-72r), it is possible to distinguish the corrected drafts of his own compositions. Of these the most important is his History of the Five Jameses, published in 1655, the various drafts of which form Hawthornden Vols I-V (DrW 314-315). Most of his other tracts and essays were printed in Works (1711); his account of his own family (DrW 311-313) was printed by one of his descendants in 1831; a few brief essays were printed in Paganelli (1968), and a very few others remain unpublished. For a study of the themes of the main essays see Thomas I. Rae, ‘The political attitudes of William Drummond of Hawthornden’, The Scottish Tradition: Essays in Honour of Ronald Gordon Cant, ed. G.W.S. Barrow (Edinburgh, 1974), 132-46. The original manuscript of what is certainly the most interesting of the prose works, Drummond's Conversations with Ben Jonson, is no longer among the Hawthornden Manuscripts. It was last seen in the late seventeenth-early eighteenth century when Sir Robert Sibbald made a copy of it (*DrW 303).

Letters and Documents

In addition to these works the Hawthornden Manuscripts contain numerous unrecorded fragments, jottings, memoranda, and historical notes (see especially Vol. IX, ff. 26v-7r, 59r, 92r-4r, 121r, 129r, 131v, 141r, 146r, 152r, 155r-8r, 161r. One other volume of historical material of this kind can be found elsewhere, in Edinburgh University Library MS La. III. 365: see *DrW 74). The Hawthornden Manuscripts also contain a fairly large number of draft letters. Thirty-one letters were printed from Vol. IX in Laing (1831), pp. 83-98; a further twenty-eight letters (including the Dedication to Craigmiller: *DrW 307) were edited from Vol. IX in Paganelli (1968); and a letter to Dr Arthur Johnston ‘on the True Nature of Poetry’ was edited in MacDonald (1976), pp. 191-2. Two letters are reproduced in part in Greg, English Literary Autographs, Plate LI(a-c). In other locations, a letter of 7 June 1621 to Sir Robert Kerr, concerning manuscripts of Samuel Daniel and John Donne, is among the muniments of the Marquess of Lothian, recorded in HMC, 1st Report (1870), Appendix, p. 116, and now in the National Archives of Scotland (GD 40/2/13/26). It is edited in Correspondence of Sir Robert Kerr, First Earl of Ancram, and his Son William, Third Earl of Lothian, ed. David Laing, 2 vols (Edinburgh, 1875), I, 24-5. A letter of 1623 is among the Crawford muniments formerly in the John Rylands University Library of Manchester (MS 14/6) and now in the National Library of Scotland (Acc. 9769). A letter of 15 October 1639 to Alexander Lord Kildrummie, discussing translations, was among the muniments of Lord Elphinstone recorded in HMC, 9th Report, Part II (1884), Appendix, p. 199; these muniments are now in the National Archives of Scotland. A signature of Drummond's written in 1637 can also be found in Edinburgh University Library (MS Da. 2. 1, p. 9), and a document bearing his signature in 1640 is at Colorado College.

Two volumes among the Hawthornden Manuscripts which appear to have been Drummond's own miscellanies (as distinct from separate papers bound together by Laing) are recorded below in a ‘Miscellaneous’ section (DrW 352-353), along with a notebook of his now at the University of Dundee (*DrW 354).

Annotations and Inscriptions in Printed Books

Six printed books that are known to contain Drummond's substantial autograph annotations have been given entries (DrW 347-351.5). For an almost complete catalogue of the books in Drummond's Library see MacDonald, Library of Hawthornden (1971). MacDonald discusses Drummond's marginalia on pp. 33-6 and includes several facsimile examples, as well as printing most of Drummond's own lists of books. Some other books from Drummond's Library (at Hawthornden Castle) were sold at Sotheby's, 24 October 1977, lots 20-2. A facsimile of the signed title-page of Drummond's exemplum of Juan Huarte's Examen de Ingenios para las Sciencias (Leiden, 1591) is in British Literary Manuscripts Series I, ed. Verlyn Klinkenborg et al. (Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, 1981), No. 31.

Presentation exempla of several of Drummond's own publications survive, facsimiles of their inscribed title-pages appearing in Kastner. An exemplum of Drummond's own Poems (Edinburgh, 1616) inscribed by him ‘Giuen to the Colledge of King James Edinbrough by the author 1624’ (Kastner, I, frontispiece) is in Aberdeen University Library. Another exemplum of the same edition, inscribed ‘Alma matri Academiae Jacobi Regis Gulielmus Drummond D. D. 1624’ (Kastner, I, lxix) is in Edinburgh University Library. His own Flowres of Sion (Edinburgh. 1623), inscribed ‘Giuen to the Librarie of Mr Thomas Rheid in Aberdene by the Author. 1627’ (Kastner, I, lxxiv), is also preserved in Aberdeen University Library (82136 f.). Another exemplum of the same edition, inscribed ‘Giuen to the colledge of King James in Edenbrough by the Author 1624’ (Kastner, p. lxxvi) is also in Edinburgh University Library.

One other curious item that may be connected with at least Drummond's family is a nonce collection of printed works by his friend Sir William Alexander (1567?-1640) formerly in the Library of the Duke of Sutherland at Dunrobin Castle and now in the Brotherton Collection at the University of Leeds. Besides containing manuscript verses in English and Latin dated 1635-6, the volume contains a series of notes, partly in shorthand, signed ‘J. Drumond. 1622’.


Some leaves of biographical and critical notes on Drummond, written at the end of the eighteenth century, are in the University of London (MS 280).

Peter Beal