The founding of the Robert Henryson Society in 1993 was stimulated by events in Dunfermline the previous year to mark the centenary of the birth of another poet, Hugh MacDiarmid. In the Auld Gray Toon, in April 1992, Scotsoun launched an audiocassette of MacDiarmid's 'Sangschaw and Penny Wheep', and Dr George Philp pointed out that Dunfermline had its ain makar, Robert Henryson. In June of that year, also in Dunfermline, another McDiarmid, Matthew, gave a public address entitled 'Robert Henryson: Dunfermline and Scotland's Greatest Poet'. This address led directly to the establishment of the Robert Henryson Society, on the fifth of November, 1993. The co-founder, George Philp, was the first Chairman, Professor Rod Lyall was elected Honorary Preses, and Professors Matthew McDiarmid and John MacQueen became Honorary Vice-Preses. On Matthew McDiarmid's sad death, Professor Jack Aitken was elected in his place. At the last AGM, George Philp stood down as Chair, to be succeeded by Dr John Corbett.
The Society holds regular meetings to discuss aspects of Henryson's life, work and times, and each spring there is an annual conference and AGM, with talks, performances of Henryson's work, and a tour of the Abbot House in Dunfermline. The 1996 Conference boasted an insightful talk by Edwin Morgan on the treatment of Cresseid by Chaucer, Henryson and Shakespeare, and an inspirational demonstration of the use of the makar's poetry in schools, by Gerard Baird, author of the excellent ASLS Scotnotes on Henryson.
The Society also produces materials to promote a wider awareness of Henryson's work. Scotsoun has produced some fine audiocassettes related to Henryson, including lightly modernised versions of The Preiching of the Swallow, Robene and Makyne, and The Trial of the Fox , read by George Bruce, Molly Rorke and Bob Smith. There is also a video of the Presence Room in the Abbot House, Dunfermline, featuring an introduction to the illustrations there of The Testament of Cresseid.
Anyone wishing further information about the Society and its activities are welcome to contact Tom Scott, Secretary, Robert Henryson Society, 2 Meadowend, Crossford, Dunfermline, KY12 8YF, Scotland, UK.
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