Biography and History

William Sharp was a Scottish writer of poetry and literary biography who, from 1893, wrote under the name of Fiona MacLeod, a pseudonym kept secret during most of his life. Sharp was also an editor of the poetry of Matthew Arnold, Walter Scott, Algernon Swinburne, and others. He was introduced to Dante Gabriel Rossetti and joined the Rossetti literary group. In 1884 he married his cousin Elizabeth, and from 1891 devoted himself full time to writing and traveling widely. About this time, he developed a romantic attachment to Edith Wingate Rinder (E.W.R.), another writer of the Celtic Edinburgh circle. It was to Rinder he attributed the inspiration for his writings as Fiona Macleod, and to whom he dedicated his first "Macleod" novel, Pharais (1894), and subsequently The Mountain Lovers (1895), and The Washer Of The Ford (1896), as well as two plays, The House of Usna (1903) and The Immortal Hour (1908). Sharp proceeded to invent a life for Fiona Macleod through her publications, by claiming she was his cousin and that he was her agent, and through letters he wrote in her name or letters he drafted and sent to his sister, Mary Sharp, to copy and mail. Under his own name Sharp wrote literary biographies, poems, including the volume Earth's Voices (1884), and novels, notably Silence Farm (1899). With his wife he compiled the anthology Lyra Celtica (1896). In 1910, Elizabeth Sharp published a biographical memoir attempting to explain the creative necessity behind the deception, and she edited a complete edition of his works.

Source: From the finding aid for C1118

  • William Sharp Collection. 1887-1907 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C1118

    Consists of selected correspondence and manuscripts of the Scottish author William Sharp, who is best known for the mystical tales of the Celtic world that he published under the pen name "Fiona Macleod."

  • William Sharp Collection. 1887-1907 (inclusive).

    Call Number: C1118

    Consists of selected correspondence and manuscripts of the Scottish author William Sharp, who is best known for the mystical tales of the Celtic world that he published under the pen name "Fiona Macleod."