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About James Hogg

James Hogg was born in 1770 and lived and worked most of his life in the Scottish Borders. He attended school only briefly, mainly because when he was seven, his father, tenant farmer Robert Hogg, was declared bankrupt, and the young James took work as a cow-herd to supplement his family’s income. There were two main strands to Hogg’s early cultural experience: folk traditions and religion. The family were church-goers and his father was an elder, while his mother was steeped in the oral tradition, relating to her children folk tales and songs of kings, knights and supernatural beings.

As a young man Hogg worked as a shepherd in Selkirkshire and Dumfriesshire, becoming interested in literature in his early twenties, when he attempted writing songs and poems, some of which were published in The Scots Magazine. He moved to Edinburgh in 1810 to pursue a career as a full-time man of letters, after having published poetry and non-fiction while maintaining his day-job as a shepherd. However, in 1813 he returned to Selkirkshire, where he lived and worked in the Duke of Buccleuch's Altrive Farm in Yarrow. He continued to publish regularly while maintaining a contentious relationship with the Edinburgh literati, including his friend and some-time mentor, Walter Scott.