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James Colquhoun Irvine
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John Donald
Publication Date
01 September 2011
Available for Sale
Birlinn Limited
2 x 8pp b/w plates

James Colquhoun Irvine

St Andrews’ Second Founder
by Julia Melvin - Find out more about the author

The life story of James Colquhoun Irvine, KBE, FRS, DSc (1877–1952), takes place against the backcloth of the pageantry of Scotland’s most ancient university, whose servant he was for over fifty years. As the University of St Andrews celebrates its 600th year, this biography unfolds the life of a great Scotsman, who led the University at its most significant point of development. Principal and Vice-Chancellor for over thirty years, Irvine is often referred to as its second founder. He brought to St Andrews the lucid and penetrating habit of mind of the scientist that he was, and a passionate love for the university where he had been a student, lecturer and professor. The University of St Andrews essentially owes its present-day form to the vision and talents of this man, who fought for its survival and turned the ancient university into a leading modern one. Irvine’s life, played out on the world stage, was full of colourful incident and adventure.

Julia Melvin is Irvine’s granddaughter. After graduating in English Language and Literature from the University of St Andrews, she trained as an archivist with the Royal Archives at Windsor and then worked as a textual editor for the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts. She currently works as a freelance research historian and consultant archivist. She assisted William Shawcross with his biography of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother (2009).