A Timber Idol: Mr Punch in Scotland

A Timber Idol: Mr Punch in Scotland


This new publication is the product of 15 years painstaking research into the evidence for Mr. Punch in Scotland. Martin MacGilp has assembled a body of evidence going back over 350 years which for the first time documents the enduring presence of this folk play in Scotland. Following on from George Speaight's pioneering study of 1955, Robert Leech's seminal work on history, tradition and meaning of 1985 and Martin Reeve's doctoral thesis of 2010, the author has desk-top published a  unique 206 page study with more than 100 illustrations. This work will become the standard work in its field establishing the Punch folk play as an integral part of the popular and traditional arts in Scotland. The book aptly takes its name from a quotation by John Galt in Annals of The Parish (1891) where old red nose is described "himself was but a timber idol he was as droll as a true living thing, and napped with his head so comical." The book is divided into 12 chapters and has been assiduously researched in libraries, archives, private collections, museums and civic records. From races, trysts and fairs to streets, beaches and indoor venues Martin MacGilp traces a trail from Orkney to Dumfries and from the Central belt across to the Borders.  There are also two useful appendices dedicated to Bruce Macleod and Jock Armitage, a list of Punch performers recorded in Scotland and a description of Museums in Scotland with Punch & Judy material.  The author has indeed gathered together a formidable array of evidence that testifies to a nationwide presence over the centuries which when absorbed should make a vital contribution to the recognition of popular folk puppetry as an artform in its own right. This book is the most serious and stimulating study of its kind to emerge for many a long year written by an author whose passion and eye for detail should be admired by one and all.


Scottish Mask & Puppet Centre
8 - 10 Balcarres Avenue


G12 0QF

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