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  Richard Doyle's Highland Journal and Sketch Book (MS.15150)
National Library of Scotland


Introduction - The 'Log of the Ladye'

The caricaturist, Richard Doyle (1824-1883), was `one of the most imaginative of Victorian draughtsmen’. He enjoyed a long career as a book illustrator and watercolour artist, and is particularly known for his design for the cover of Punch magazine. His work is distinguished by his trademark drawings, romantic fantasies of goblins, fairies and mythical beasts. Doyle spent much of his life in London but, like so many Englishman of the time, chose the Scottish Highlands for his holidays.

Interest in the Highlands, particularly among the wealthy southern English, had been growing from the late eighteenth century. The visit of George IV in 1822 and, more importantly, Queen Victoria’s regular visits to Scotland from 1842, together with the coming of the railways, contributed to an explosion of enthusiasm for all things tartan. By the 1850s the Highlands were becoming a playground for the English aristocracy and middle classes.

Richard Doyle visited Scotland in the autumn of 1855 and again in 1859, dividing his time between relatives, including the young Arthur Conan Doyle, and his friends. On both occasions he spent several weeks at Glenquoich, the Inverness-shire home of the wealthy businessman and Liberal politician, Edward Ellice of Invergarry, nicknamed the `Bear’ because of his fortune from the fur trade in Canada.

Edward Ellice bought the Glenquoich estate in 1839 and, until his death in 1863, entertained a steady stream of visitors at the Lodge in lavish style. It is said that in a single year nearly a thousand guests attended house parties there. Many came for the shooting, deer stalking and fishing; others cruised off the Western Isles in the family’s boats. Richard Doyle’s entry in the Glenquoich Visitors’ Book gives the object of his stay as simply `recreation’ with the rider `The longer I stay the more difficult I find it to get away’.

Many of the Lodge’s distinguished visitors, including Sir Edward Landseer, William Gladstone and Sir Henry Holland, left humorous sketches and notes in the Lodge’s Visitors’ Book. Richard Doyle, in turn, took the trouble to present his hostess, Katherine Jane Ellice, the `Bear’s’ daughter-in-law, with an illustrated journal and sketchbook of his visits.

The `Log of the Ladye’, from the Ellice of Invergarry papers in the National Library of Scotland (MS.15150), is an account of a voyage on board the yacht `The Ladye’ from Loch Hourn to Lewis and Skye in October 1859.  A series of humorous pen and ink sketches placed with the log make up the second journal. These depict an earlier cruise of October 1855 when Doyle joined his hosts on the `Lotus’ when they sailed to Skye and Rona. 

Richard Doyle made many more drawings of his visits to the Highlands and intended to publish them as `The Adventures of Brown, Jones and Robinson in the Highlands’, a sequel to his successful Foreign Tour of Messrs. Brown, Jones and Robinson of 1854. Unfortunately, the work never appeared.

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