The Carmichael Watson Project

Pròiseact MhicGilleMhìcheil MhicBhatair

Biography - John Francis Campbell

Identity Note

Folklorist, polymath

Date Note
Biographical History

John Francis Campbell was born in 1821, eldest son of Walter Frederick Campbell, MP for Argyll, and his first wife Lady Eleanor Charteris. The forced sale of Islay, resulting from his father's large debts incurred in improvements to the island, prevented him from becoming laird on his father's death. A prolific writer of scientific books, John Francis exploited his fluent Gaelic to become a keen collector of folklore, eventually publishing several works on the subject, including four volumes of collected stories as Popular Tales of the West Highlands Orally Collected, with a Translation in 1860-1862. He was partly inspired in this by the work of the Grimm brothers and by Scandinavian scholars, and aimed, with the help of various collaborators including Alexander Carmichael, to establish an accurate record of stories in the Gaelic oral tradition, with literal translations into English. Though a man of many talents and achievements, it is for this work that he is best remembered today.

  • 1821 birth
  • 1860 Published first volume of 'Popular Tales of the West Highlands'
  • 1872 Published 'Leabhar na Feinne'
  • 17 February 1885 death
  • Oxford Dictionary of National Biography webpage

    Campbell, John Francis, of Islay (1821?-1885)Pratt, James A. May 2010

  • The Companion to Gaelic Scotland

    'Campbell, John Francis', in The Companion to Gaelic Scotland MacDonald, Donald A.Gairm PublicationsGlasgow1994