Poet William Topaz McGonagall died - On this day in Scottish history

29 September 2022
Scottish poet William Topaz McGonagall died on 29 September 1902. ...

Scottish poet William Topaz McGonagall, often lauded as the 'world's worst poet' died on 29 September 1902. McGonagall was a weaver who branched out into a career in poetry and acting. Opinions are divided on whether or not McGonagall wrote and performed his dramatic poems for comedy effect, but he made a career from performing his work in front of jeering audiences, often being pelted with fruit.

McGonagall seems to have had a strong belief in his own talent, once travelling sixty miles on foot to visit Queen Victoria, after receiving a letter from the monarch thanking him for sending in some of his poems. He was turned away at the gates of the queen's palace but undeterred, continued to perform in pubs and theatres, boasting to audiences that he'd received a letter from the queen.

Among McGonagall's works are The Tay Bridge Disaster, Ode to the Queen on her Jubilee Year, Address to the New Tay Bridge and The Christmas Goose.

McGonagall was buried in an unmarked grave at Edinburgh's Greyfriars Kirkyard, where a memorial slab was later erected, reading:

William McGonagall
Poet and Tragedian
'I am your gracious Majesty
ever faithful to Thee,
William McGonagall, the Poor Poet,
That lives in Dundee.'

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The Autobiography of Sir William Topaz McGonagall (Illustrated Edition)