hidden europe 58

Sketches in Teviotdale

by hidden europe


Southern Scotland has had more than its fair share of poets, along them Rabbie Burns, Robert Davidson and James Hogg. But one Borders poet, Thomas Pringle, is far better known in South Africa than he is in his native Scotland. Born just south of Kelso in 1789, Pringle is sometimes acclaimed as 'the father of South African poetry'.

If you spend any time at all in the Scottish borders, it’ll not be long before you stumble on a Pringle. From the banks of Gala Water, as you move south and east towards the Cheviots, there are Pringles aplenty. It is a clan of farmers and knitwear producers, although the eponymous potato crisp has, as far as we know, nothing to do with the Pringles of Scotland.

During our travels in South Africa, we have run across Pringles there too. And there is one particular Pringle who gets a lot of credit in literary circles — and in these days of post-colonial criticism also now a lot of flak. That’s Thomas Pringle, who is often credited by white, middlesnippet Sketches in Teviotdale class South Africans as “the father of South African poetry.”

It was 200 years ago that Pringle’s first collection of poetry was published.

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