Sunday, 30 December 2012

The story so far...

A few months ago I stumbled upon the name Robert Duncan Milne for the first time. All I knew of him was that he was a Scottish born writer of science fiction who had been working in San Francisco around the end of the nineteenth century.

Following a fruitless attempt to source 'Into the Sun' (available here: through my local library I decided to shell-out for a copy I'd found on Amazon.

As a resident of Cupar, Fife for over thirty years you can perhaps imagine my surprise when I discovered that Milne was born in my hometown. Yet, apart from a brief mention in the library's 'famous dead folk' section there was nothing locally I could find relating to Milne and no-one I spoke to had even heard of him let alone read his work. 

The purpose of these blogs is to build on the earlier research undertaken by Sam Moskowitz ( and to both celebrate and promote the life and work of an author who has, for too long, been overlooked. 

To this end my Robert Duncan Milne facebook page ( went live a few days ago. However, as it wasn't showing up on google searches I've decided to post the bulk of my findings via this blog. 

For the benefit of anyone coming to this for the first time here's what I've been up to so far:

In order to better understand RDM I've decided to gather as much information as I can about the time and place in which he grew up. To this end I began exploring RDM's family background, beginning with his father, the Rev. George Gordon Milne. 

It may seem like an odd step but an obituary is often a good starting point. This proved to be the case when, from Fife News, Saturday Oct. 12, 1872 I found the following tribute in Rev GG Milne's obituary:

 "A pleasant companion, an able and deeply-read scholar, and a first-rate antiquarian..." 

This was very useful as, having been an antiquarian, it was highly probable that he left some publicly accessible written works behind...

As it transpires Milne Snr. did indeed leave some 'written works' behind in the 'Album for the Cupar Antiquarian and Literary Society 1840', accessed via Cupar Library.

The album itself is an interesting volume: approximately A3 in size and containing around 60 or so pages, only half of which have anything on them, it's an eclectic mix of odds and sods. More like a scrapbook than anything else it has all sorts of weird and wonderful items including the attached n
ewspaper cutting.

At first glance this undated cutting from an unnamed newspaper appears to have very little to do with RDM. However this article demonstrates that his father, the Rev. Milne, was clearly interested in local history- an aspect which I believe has some relevance to RDM's upbringing and will be explored in a later post.  

If nothing else Rev. Mine's argument regarding the origins of the artefacts discovered at ‘Norrie’s Law’ offers an interesting perspective on Pictish art as seen through eyes of a nineteenth century clergyman. 

The ‘Mr. Buist’ referred to here appears to be Rev. Dr. George Buist whose work on the ‘Norrie’s Law’ finds are referenced in the article linked to below.

James Graham-Campbell’s paper is a detailed account of the discovery of Pictish artefacts in Largoward in 1819, and certainly worth a read:

I’ll return to the relevance of the newspaper cutting later but the next status update will focus on a fascinating aspect of local history of which I had been previously unaware, which came to my attention via Graham-Campbell’s report.

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