"an authentic letter, published in Blackwood’s Magazine for August, 1823"

This is Hogg at his most impish, for the August edition of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine did indeed carry this letter – or most of it - under the title ‘A Scots Mummy’. More than a simple act of self-publicity, Hogg’s embedding of a genuine letter within a fictional commentary on a fictional memoir creates a palimpsest of voices that challenges the idea of narrative authority.

Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine was founded in 1817 by William Blackwood under the name of the Edinburgh Monthly Magazine. It was intended to provide a Tory antidote to the Whiggish Edinburgh Review. With its satirical articles and impressive roll-call of featured authors and contributors, it quickly gained a wide readership. Hogg himself was originally part of the magazine’s inner circle but as more prominent authors joined, he found himself edged out. Not only this, but he was often openly ridiculed in its pages. His Memoir of the Author’s Life (1806) was savagely attacked in a review that verged on character assassination and a series entitled Noctes Ambrosianae often depicted him as a coarse, brawling drunkard (albeit a witty and sagacious one). These slights injured Hogg, as his letters of protest to the editors attest, but he nonetheless retained his admiration for the magazine.

You can read 'A Scots Mummy' below. As you will see, the letter quoted in Private Memoirs is prefixed by an introductory section in which Hogg makes pointed sallies at the magazine’s condescending attitude towards him.