Papers of Freddy Anderson, 1922-2001, poet, playwright and author

Reference and contact details: GB 1847 Anderson
Title: Papers of Freddy Anderson, 1922-2001, poet, playwright and author
Dates of creation: 1960, 1987-2001
Extent: [to be confirmed].
Held at: Glasgow Caledonian University Archives
Name of Creator: Anderson, Freddie (1922-2001: poet, playwright and author)
Level of Description: fonds
Published by: Glasgow University Archive Services, 9 May 2003


Administrative/Biographical History

Freddie Anderson was born in County Monaghan, Ireland, in 1922 and was brought up in the village of Ballybay. At school in Ballybay, he excelled at writing and composition and when he attended the Cistercian secondary school at Roscrea, Tipperary, Ireland, he developed these skills further. It therefore came as some surprise when he went on to University College, Dublin, to study architecture.

In 1942, Freddy joined the Royal Air Force (RAF) at a time when some Irishmen signed up out of idealism, but more joined in order to send money home to struggling families. He was posted to a radar station at Crossmaglen, County Armagh, Ireland but also worked in India and Burma. Around this time, he met his wife, Isobel, whom he married in 1951. Upon demobilisation in 1946, he moved to her native Glasgow, Scotland, a city he took to instantly although his work continued to be influenced by his beloved County Monaghan. The RAF secured Freddie a job as a museum attendant in Glasgow, a job that lasted only days as Freddy popped out for cigarettes and a picture was stolen in his absence. Thereafter, a period followed during which Freddy successively became, amongst other occupations, a lamplighter, tram conductor, book barrow salesman, night porter, hoistman, labourer, telephone operator, garage clerk and dyker. These experiences informed his drift towards theatre and in 1947 he joined Glasgow Unity Theatre, effectively launching a career which saw him become a valuable player in Glasgow's left-wing artistic life. His first play, Thirty Three Years, was produced by the Unity Theatre in the late 1940s.

His plays were also performed by various community groups, including a pantomime called Wee Willie Winkie based on Glasgow's coat-of-arms; a dramatic 18th century chronicle ; and the biography of the life of John McLean entitled Krassivy . The latter work won him an Edinburgh Festival Fringe First. His literary work in the Easterhouse community in Glasgow where he lived was also recognised by and Irish Post award and he was also involved in the community as secretary of the Garthamlock Community Council and as a fundraiser for hospital benefits.

Freddy became well known on the Glasgow political/socialist/Scottish/Irish/International Republican scene. His poetry, stories, plays and songs all reflected his Celtic charm, blending Scottish and Irish history and culture in an anti-sectarian manner. As a poet of the oral tradition, his work could sometimes lapse into sentimentality but at his best his lyrics had the same insight as other fellow Monaghan poets such as Patrick Kavanagh. Freddy's radical, humorous political songs were numerous, with many local and national politicians falling foul of Freddy's wit and barb in what became known as a "Holy Wullie's Prayer". Politically, Freddy was a socialist who detested mainstream labour politicians who he regarded as having sold out principle for power. He lampooned those who received honours from the establishment mercilessly, referring to them as "squibs".

Late in life he produced a book which drew together all his attributes, Oiney Hoy , a tale of the wanderings of a "green fool". The book toys with Ireland's myths, stereotypes, pretensions, and foibles, and is a gentle but effective satire which was translated to the Edinburgh Fringe stage after its premiere in the Great Eastern Hotel, Glasgow. It was later performed in Easterhouse by the Easterhouse Festival Society who also produced a number of Freddy's other plays. For all his success, Freddy was never recognised by the established arts councils or grants givers, and spent much of his life living in poverty. However, he was awarded a Millennium Prize for his 18 page illustrated brochure The Burns Trial in Glasgow: 1787-1788.

In his later life, Freddy was preparing the further adventures of Oiney as well as an autobiography but these were never completed and he died in a Glasgow nursing home in 2001, 2 years after the death of his wife and companion, Isobel.

Sources: James Freeman. "Freddy Anderson" The Herald (13 December 2001); Donald Anderson "Freddie Anderson" [sic] Scottish Republican Socialist Movement website [last viewed at http://srsm.port5.com/srsm/obituary.htm on 18 November 2002]

Scope and Content

The papers of Freddie Anderson were still in the process of being listed in 2002 and some material has still to be identified. The following have already been identified:

  • Copy of Freddy Anderson's CV c1995
  • Loose illustrations from Oiney Hoy n.d.
  • Invitation to Oiney Hoy book launch 1989
  • Reviews of Oiney Hoy n.d.
  • Typescript of Oiney Hoy [1988]
  • Published edition of Oiney Hoy vol 1 1989
  • Manuscript fragment of Oiney Hoy vol. 2 along with miscellaneous essays, short stories, memoirs, poems, jottings and draft correspondence written in 1994 diary [1994]
  • Miscellaneous manuscript draft correspondence, jottings, poems and songs written in 1997 diary [1997]
  • Miscellaneous typescript short stories, novelettes n.d.
  • Miscellaneous typescript plays, essays, short stories n.d.
  • Typescript poems 1999 and undated
  • Typescript songs 1987-1999, largely undated
  • Loose manuscript poems [1993]
  • Manuscript autobiography [1993]
  • Manuscript notes on Scottish Socialism n.d.
  • Incomplete typescript of autobiographical novel From the Green Hills of Ulster n.d.
  • Certificate of award from Millennium Commission 2001
  • Correspondence sent 1960, 1982, 1990s-1998
  • Correspondence received 1981-1999
  • Published poems 1980s
  • Photographs of Freddie Anderson n.d.
  • Posters and programmes for Easterhouse Festival Society productions n.d.
  • Typescript poems and essays received from others 1990-1997
  • Biographical notes on others, including Robert Burns 1995, largely undated
  • Talk on Robert Burns 1996
  • Photocopies of newspaper cuttings post-1840, n.d.
  • Newspaper cuttings 1989

System of Arrangement

The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received

Administrative Information

Archival History

Held by Freddy Anderson

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Received from the estate of Freddy Anderson : February 2002

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 1847 procedures

Accruals

Accruals possible

Access Conditions

Open

Copyright / Conditions governing reproduction

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Research Collections Manager

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use & condition of documents

Language of material

English

Existence and location of copies

No known copies

Further Information

Finding Aids

Digital item level list available in searchroom

Further information can be found via the Glasgow Caledonian Research Collections homepage at http://www.lib.gcal.ac.uk/researchcollections/index.htm

Existence and location of originals

This material is original

Related Units of Description

No related material

Publication note

No known publications using this material

Notes

Date(s) of Description

Compiled by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, 18 November 2002

No alterations made to date