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Poet McGonagall
Out of Print

Publication Date
01 September 2010
Out of Print
Birlinn Limited

Poet McGonagall

The Biography of William McGonagall
by Norman Watson - Find out more about the author

“Norman Watson builds a fascinating and ultimately moving portrait,” - Sunday Times

William McGonagall is a literary legend and one of the best known names in the printed world. His disjointed verse has been popularised by the Goons, Pythons and Muppets, Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, JK Rowling, Terry Pratchett and Philip Pullman. He is on film and in reference books. His portrait hangs in galleries. There are McGonagall societies and dinners, ceremonial plaques and websites. Yet we do not know where William McGonagall was born, where he was brought up or, indeed, where exactly he is buried. We do not know if the world’s worst poet was Scots or Irish. No one has unpicked his first fifty years before he poured out formulaic rhymes on tragedies, victories, heroic deeds, nobility, clergy and gentry. We do not know how many poems he wrote or pamphlets of unappreciated verse he published. McGonagall has largely escaped the biographer’s pen and no adequate appraisal of his life has been attempted – until now. This definitive biography of the world’s worst poet is the remarkable, revealing and compelling story of a one-time Dundee weaver who continues to fascinate the world beyond Scotland a century after his passing. Award-winning author Norman Watson’s insightful pen pulls back the curtain on the life of the self-styled ‘tragedian and poet’ in an important, absorbing and hugely entertaining biography which will appeal to McGonagall fans and general readers alike.

Dr Norman Watson is a journalist with The Courier in Dundee and the author of several books on Scottish history. He was born and brought up in Perth. Watson lectures part-time in English and media studies, and was the winner of the 2007 Robson Lowe Silver Salver for Philatelic Literature for The Postal History of Perth. He is regarded as one of Scotland’s foremost experts on women’s history.>