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Andrew Lang, Selected Letters

Andrew Lang (1844-1912), alumnus and part-time resident of St Andrews, was a flamboyant writer on almost any subject. Best known for his compilations of fairy tales such as the Blue and Violet Fairy Books, he was also an accomplished author, poet, historian, literary critic, classicist, folklorist and scholarly anthropologist with an interest in the supernatural and paranormal. He was an enthusiastic letter-writer, and even though he wanted his wife to destroy all his letters on his death, many still survive.
The University of St Andrews Library has a large archive of Lang's letters and manuscripts (as well as over 430 volumes of his books), and the digital collection shown here has been selected to show his character and to illustrate his relationship with two other St Andrean scholars, historian David Hay Fleming (1849-1931, msdep113), and classicist, lexicographer and philologist Sir William Craigie (1867-1957, ms36862-36914).
Lang had a long association with both, exchanging letters, opinions and visits. Fleming, while admiring Lang as a person, did not think highly of his scholarship, and published many critical reviews of his work. Letters to Fleming from others make fun of Lang's methods, echoing Fleming's lack of respect for Lang's academic capabilities. Lang fought back in his own defence and was perhaps even more critical of the work of others than Fleming. There is, however, a poignant letter from Lang to Fleming written just weeks before Lang's death (msdep113-22-26d-g), in which he reflects on their history of mild antagonism, admits a few of his faults and some of Fleming's criticisms which hurt, and makes peace.
Lang and Fleming were generally on good terms, but their relationship was never as warm as that between Lang and Craigie, a younger man and a brilliant scholar. They shared a fascination for supernatural stories, and Lang relied on Craigie for Norse and Icelandic folklore. Lang's letters are full of fun and interesting stories of co-walkers and vardogrs.
Also included here are some letters from Lang to Anna Hills (Mrs Herbert Hills c.1845-1909, ms37240), a very good friend to whom he wrote every day for many years. These letters portray Lang at his most relaxed, witty and unguarded, demonstrating both his enquiring mind and his zest for life.