Florence Marian McNeill


Journalist, Folklorist and Compiler of Scots Kitchen

Florence Marian McNeill (1885-1973) was a journalist and an authority on Scottish folklore and cooking.

Florence was born and brought up in an Orkney manse, where her father, a university graduate in divinity and medicine, kept up many of the old customs. Her secondary education was undertaken in Glasgow and in private schools in Paris and the Rhineland, before returning to Glasgow University to graduate with an arts degree in 1912. Among her friends and contemporaries at the time were James Bridie and Donald and Catherine Caswell.

In the following years Florence Marian McNeill travelled abroad, visiting Greece, Egypt and Palestine among other countries, working in London as part of the suffragette movement, and later as a freelance journalist. Excited by the modern Scottish renaissance in literature and culture, she returned to Edinburgh to stay in 1926, working for a time as a researcher for the Scottish National Dictionary. She founded the Clan McNeill Association in 1932, and was a Vice President of the Scottish National Party.

Her only novel, The Road Home (1932), was loosely based on her years in Glasgow and London. A life-long interest in traditional Scottish lore first found expression in The Scots Kitchen (1929), and later The Scots Cellar (1956). These well-loved books of old recipes and convivial customs amount to a social history of Northern domestic life and its contacts with Europe. F. Marian McNeill's greatest contribution to the study of Scottish folk life was published in four volumes as The Silver Bough (1957-68). The first volume is this classic collection of national folk lore and folk belief; the next two books deal with seasonal festivals from Candlemas to Yule, while the final volume describes local festivals form all parts of the country.

She was made an MBE in 1962.

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