Honorary members 1956 to 1962

1956 Anthony Eden, Douglas Bader
1957 17th Earl of Eglinton, Earl Mountbatten of Burma
1958 Sir Compton Mackenzie, Lord Strathclyde, Harold Macmillan
1959 Lord Cameron, William Phillips, Lord Douglas of Kirtleside, Sir Vivian E Fuchs, Norval Murray
1960 S Marshak, Margaret M Hogg, John Grierson, Tom J Honeyman, Albert Schweitzer
1961 Commander Sir Stephen King Hall
1962 A Bernard Lovell, Prof J De Lancey Ferguson

 

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Anthony Eden (1897-1977) Honorary member 1956

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from 10 Downing Street, Whitehall, on 3 January 1956:

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips
     Thank you for your letter of December 27 in which you were so kind as to tell me that the Irvine Burns Club had decided to elect me as an Honorary Member. Please thank the Club on my behalf for thinking of me in this way.
     Yours sincerely
     Anthony Eden

His letter, on Downing St. notepaper, has only the Dear and Your sincerely lines handwritten.

Douglas Bader (1910-1982) Honorary member 1956

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from 5, Petersham Mews, SW7, on January 11th, 1956:

Notes:

Dear Sir,
     It is with the greatest pleasure that I received your letter of December 27th 1955.
     I am honoured that you should feel me worthy of being elected to your distinguished company of Honorary Members. Thank you!
     Please accept my apologies for this tardy reply but I have been away from home.
     Happy days for 1956, and I shall look forward to visiting Irvine.
     Yours sincerely
     Douglas Bader

 

17th Earl of Eglinton & Winton (1914-1966) Honorary member 1957

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from Monkwood House, By Ayr, on 16th January 1957:

Notes:

Dear Sir,
     Many thanks for your letter of 14th Jan. I am very sensible of the great honour you have done me by making me an Honorary Member of your ancient and distinguished Club. When I read the list of other Honorary Members, I feel quite unfitted and unworthy to be numbered among them. I am extremely gratified by this single [sic] honour, and I would be grateful if you would convey my most sincere thanks and appreciation to all members of the Club.
     Yours truly
     Eglinton & Winton

 

Earl Mountbatten of Burma (1900-1979) Honorary member 1957

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from the office of the First Sea Lord, Admiralty, London, SW1, on 18th January 1957:

Notes:

My dear Honorary Secretary,
     Thank you for your letter of 15th January informing me that I have been elected an honorary member of the Irvine Burns Club.
     Would you please convey my thanks to the members.
     Yours sincerely
     Mountbatten of Burma
     A.F.

His letter is on First Sea Lord notepaper, but is otherwise handwritten. The A.F. means Admiral of the Fleet, a position to which he had been promoted a few months earlier, in Oct. 1956.

Sir Compton Mackenzie (1833-1972) Honorary member 1958

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from 31 Drummond Place, Edinburgh ,3, on January 16, ‘58:

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips,
     Your letter to tell me of the honour I have received from the Irvine Burns Club reaches me on the eve of my 75th birthday; I do not remember a birthday present which has given me greater pleasure.
     Pray convey to the Club my deep appreciation of their gesture which has greatly moved me and made me very proud.
     As it happened your letter arrived when a B.B.C. representative was recording an interview about Burns which will be broadcast in a programme the B.B.C. are doing on the 25th.
     I could not resist mentioning my gratification and I was asked to express it to the tape-machine. So I hope I shall be allowed this public acknowledgement in the programme.
     I shall certainly let you know when I have a chance to visit Irvine and I hope it will be during next spring or summer.
     I also hope that you will be able to read my handwriting. I have tried hard to write legibly.
     Once more assuring you of my warm awareness of the great compliment the Club have paid me and with renewed thanks,
     I am
     yours most truly
     Compton Mackenzie

 

Lord Strathclyde (1917-1982) Honorary member 1958

His life & work:

Tam Galbraith . . . < biography to follow >

His letter, written from St. Andrew’s House, Edinburgh, 1, on 24th January 1958:

Notes:

Dear Sir,
     It was with great pleasure that I learnt from your letter of 15th January that at the Annual Meeting of the Irvine Burns Club, I had been elected an Honorary Member. This is indeed a great honour and one which I most deeply appreciate.
     Will you please convey to your members my sincere thanks for the honour they have conferred upon me.
     With best wishes to the Club and to all its members.
     Yours sincerely, Strathclyde

His letter is on official Secretary of State for Scotland paper, but is otherwise handwritten.

Harold Macmillan (1894-1986) Honorary member 1958

His life & work:

From his birth, in Chelsea, at the height of the Victorian Empire, Harold Macmillan was involved in the great events of the 20th century. But, as these notes relate to Irvine, we begin in Irvine.

As a child, the portraits of his grandfather Daniel and great-uncle Alexander, the founders (in 1843) of the Macmillan publishing firm, hung on his nursery wall. Daniel, born in Arran (his crofter father became a carter in Irvine), was apprenticed to bookseller and printer Maxwell Dick by the age of 11, beginning at 1/6 (8p) a week, and served in the bookshop for seven years (1824-31). (We think it likely that the link between Dick, a founder member of Irvine Burns Club, and Daniel Macmillan, both of enterprising character, was the catalyst for some of the honorary membership nominations of London literary figures.) On Daniel's early death aged 44, his two sons Maurice (Harold's father) and Frederick were brought up by their uncle Alexander. Sir Frederick accepted honorary membership of Irvine Burns Club in 1924.

The words of a 20-year-old Daniel, in 1833, had a profound effect on his grandson Harold (who read Daniel's biography while still a child): "I do not feel bound to follow in the footsteps of any of my relations. I am here to act for myself . . the most important things must be done by myself alone". Harold warmed to his grandfather's charm and strength of character. Such was the influence of one who had spent early years on Arran and teenage years with an Irvine bookseller. Throughout his life, Harold Macmillan cherished the photographs of his grandfather and of the Arran croft where he was born.

Harold Macmillan's career is well documented elsewhere. In summary, he was educated at Eton, gained a First at Oxford, and served with distinction in the First World War (until wounded at the Somme, where, lying wounded in a trench until found, he continued the book he carried with him - Aeschylus' 'Prometheus' in Greek). In WWII he served in Government, for a time as Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of Supply Sir Andrew Duncan, Irvine Burns Club President in 1927. He served as MP for Stockton-on-Tees from 1924 until the Labour landslide of 1945, then, after a by-election, as MP for Bromley 1945-64. He served as Prime Minister from 1957, prompting this nomination, until 1963.

As a politician and statesman, Macmillan had great sympathy for the unfortunate. His book "The Middle Way" (1938) called for urgent action to provide, for all, a decent standard of living through a mixed system combining state ownership and private enterprise. After election as Conservative leader, he quoted Disraeli ("we must be conservative to conserve all that is good and radical to uproot all that is bad") and continued: "I trust that while I am your leader we will never be a party of any class or sectional interest". As Housing Minister in 1954, when an annual target of 300,000 new houses had been achieved, he said: "Housing is not a question of Conservatism or Socialism. It is a question of humanity." Contrary to popular belief, he did not boast "You've never had it so good" - his phrase "most of our people have never had it so good" was a premise to the prescient question "Is it too good to last? Can we control inflation? This is the problem of our time." His 1959 General Election success earned him the epithet 'Supermac'; in his diary three days later he wrote "the great thing is to keep the Tory party on modern and progressive lines" - he was no Edwardian throw-back. He tried to take the UK into the EEC, but had to suffer the 1963 veto of De Gaulle. To dealings with colleagues, he brought an informality, a disarming friendliness and an unassuming manner. His 6-volume autobiography was "imbued with insight and humour". He was created the 1st Earl of Stockton in 1984.

His letter, written from 10 Downing Street, Whitehall, on Feb 27, 1958:

Notes:

My dear Sir,
     I was very pleased to receive your letter of January 15th, on my return from my Commonwealth tour, informing me of my election as an Honorary Member of the Irvine Burns Club.
     My grandfather, Daniel Macmillan, was bound apprentice to a bookseller in Irvine at the age of ten. I have therefore a family association with your ancient burgh.
     I am indeed happy to join that distinguished company whose letters are preserved by the Club, and I hope at some future date to avail myself of your kind invitation to see that collection & the Burns relics.
     My greetings to all my fellow members. “Plenty be your fa’”
     Yours very truly
     Harold Macmillan

His letter is on official Prime Minister paper, but is otherwise handwritten.

The bookseller was Maxwell Dick, the year 1823 or 1824, and his apprentice wage was 1s 6d (GBP 0.075) per week, with a 1s (0.05) rise each year for the seven years he worked there.

The quote is from the last lines of “To The Guidwife of Wauchope House”, where the word “fa’” means “lot” as in “fate”, so means: “May you always have plenty”.

Lord Douglas of Kirtleside (1893-1969) Honorary member 1959

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from British European Airways, Keyline House, Ruislip, Middx, on January 25th 1959:

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips,
     Thank you very much for your letter of 8th January. I am indeed honoured to have been elected an Honorary Member of the Irvine Burns Club and am of course delighted to accept that honour.
     I shall look forward to visiting Irvine and inspecting your interesting manuscripts of our great national poet.
    I am sorry not to have answered your letter before but I have been away travelling, mostly in Spain.
     yours sincerely -
     Douglas of Kirtleside
     Marshal of the R.A.F.

His letter is handwritten on BEA Chairman's Room notepaper, to Mr Phillips, Hon. Secy..

Sir Vivian E Fuchs (1908-1999) Honorary member 1959

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from The Trans-Antarctic Expedition, 64, Victoria Street, London, on 2nd February 1959:

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips,
     I write to say how honoured I am to hear that the Irvine Burns Club has elected me an honorary member. As I have been away in Amsterdam and elsewhere I am afraid that this acknowledgement is somewhat overdue for which I apologise. I would have wished to write on the occasion of the great man's recent anniversary, but I was delighted to see the universal and appreciative notices throughout the press.
     Please convey my great appreciation of the honour to the Club.
     Yours sincerely,
     V E Fuchs

His letter is handwritten on Trans-Antarctic Expedition notepaper, to Mr Phillips, Hon. Secy..

The year 1959 was of course the bicentenary of the Bard's birth.

Lord Cameron (1900-1996) Honorary member 1959

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from Parliament House, Edinburgh, 1, on 14 Jany ‘59:

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips
     I was most surprised – and pleasantly so – to receive your very kind letter. I cannot with any modesty claim to be qualified in any sense for honorary membership of the Irvine Burns Club, but it is a very great honour to have been selected, and in such distinguished company. I fully realize the extent of the honour which you so gracefully offer and which I am most delighted to accept. It is all the more an honour, I feel, that this should come in a year of such particular note and from a club of such antiquity and distinction. I would be very grateful if you would convey to all your colleagues my humble acceptance of this honourable distinction and my deep appreciation of what they have done. I hope that it will not be long before I have not only an opportunity of seeing your treasures but also of thanking you personally
     Yours sincerely
     John Cameron

His letter is on official Court of Session paper, but is otherwise handwritten.

The year is "of particular note" as being the bicentenary year of the birth of Robert Burns.

William Phillips (?1908-1968) Honorary member 1959

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from Marr College, Troon, on 23rd January, 1959:

Notes:

Dear Dr Taylor,
     It is with great pleasure that I acknowledge my election as an Honorary Member of the Club.
     Such an honour is neither given nor accepted lightly and I know that this decision is in recognition of services rendered to the Club in my capacity of Honorary Secretary for the past twelve years.
     These services I give willingly and hope to continue to do so for some time yet.
     Please convey to the Members my deepest thanks for this compliment which I appreciate very much indeed.
     Yours very sincerely
     William Phillips

His letter is on official Marr College paper, but is otherwise handwritten.

J Norval Murray (c.1895-1977) Honorary member 1959

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from Woodlands, Irvine, on 15th January, 1959:

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips,
     I have to thank you for your letter of 8th inst. informing me that I have been elected an Honorary Member of Irvine Burns Club. This is indeed a great honour and one which I deeply appreciate.
     I have a keen sense of pride in my long association with the Club and count myself fortunate in having been privileged to give some small service to it.
     Yours faithfully
     N Murray

The letter is to Hon. Secy William Phillips.

Samuil Marshak (....) Honorary member 1960

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from Moscow, B-64, Chkalor Str. 14/16, on January 7th, 1960:

Notes:

Gentlemen,
     Your letter informing me that I am to be elected an Honorary Member of the Irvine Club came to me as a most gratifying and moving surprise.
     It is indeed a privilege to be a member of the most venerable Burns Club and to enjoy the company of such illustrious men as Sir Walter Scott, Charles Dickens and Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
     May this be a new bond of friendship between our two countries.
     Allow me, dear Sirs, to express my gratitude to you and to all the members of your Club who found it suitable to bestow this honour upon such an ardent admirer of Burns as myself.
     Yours faithfully
     S. Marshak

We do not now count Sir Walter Scott as an Honorary Member - though nominated in 1830, there is no evidence of his acceptance. [Col. Walter Scott of New York accepted honorary membership in 1928.]

The letter is to Hon. Secy William Phillips.

M M Hogg (....) Honorary member 1960

Her life & work:

< biography to follow >

Her letter, written from 21 Bank Street, Irvine, on 12th January, 1960:

Notes:

Dear Sir,
     Thank you for your letter of 7th inst. intimating that I have been elected an Honorary Member of the Club. I consider this to be a very high honour indeed and a unique one in that I am the first lady to be elected.
     Would you please convey to the Directors my grateful thanks for this token of appreciation of my services to the Club.
     Yours faithfully,
     M. M. Hogg

Note: the first lady Honorary Member.

The letter is to Hon. Secy William Phillips.

Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) Honorary member 1960

His life & work:

Schweitzer was the son of a Lutheran-Evangelical pastor in Germany, grew up in an exceptional environment of religious tolerance, and developed the belief that true Christianity should work towards a unity of faith and purpose. He studied Protestant theology in Strasbourg and became a prominent musical scholar and organist, dedicated also to the rescue, restoration and study of historic pipe organs, publishing the pamphlet "The Art of Organ Building and Organ Playing in Germany and France" (1906). On leaving for Lambaréné in 1913, he was presented with a pedal piano built especially for the tropics (delivered by river in a huge dug-out canoe).

Schweitzer felt obliged as a Christian to repay to the world something for the happiness which it had given to him, and determined that he would pursue his younger interests until the age of thirty and then give himself to serving humanity, with Jesus serving as his example. In 1905, he re-entered the University as a student in a punishing seven-year course towards the degree of a Doctorate in Medicine. In 1912, he graduated and married, and applied to the Paris Missionary Society to go as a medical doctor to Lambaréné in what was then the French colony of Gabon.

Richard Holloway, Episcopal Bishop of Edinburgh 1986-2000, has written: "Schweitzer believed Jesus had died mistaken and forsaken. This conclusion drove him from the study of theology to the work of practical love. He wrote of this period in his life: 'I wanted to be a doctor that I might be able to work without having to talk. For years I had been giving myself out in words . . this new form of activity I could not represent to myself as being talking about the religion of love, but only as an actual putting it into practice.' In 1913 he went to Lambaréné. He spent his life there, no longer talking about Jesus but still trying to follow him." Schweitzer received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.

His letter from Lambaréné, Gabon, Afrique Équatoriale Française, on 25 Juli 1960:

An den Herrn Presidenten des Irvine Burns Club
     Sehr geehrter Herr President,
Der Irvine Burns Club hat mich zum Honorary Member des Clubs ernannt. Lassen Sie mich Ihnen sagen, wie sehr ich die Ehre die in mir erweist und die Sympathie, die es mir bekundet, zu schätzen weiss. Ich danke Ihnen herzlich.
     Verzeihen Sie mir, dass ich Ihnen nicht auf Englisch schreibe. Ich beherrshe diese Sprache nicht genug, um Ihnen meine Gedanken richtig aussprechen zu Können. Verzeihen Sie mir auch dass ich so spät antworte. Die grosse und so vielfältige Arbeit, die ich zu tun habe, lässt mich nicht zum Schreiben kommen, wie ich sollte und möchte. Versagen Sie mir bitte Ihre Nachsicht nicht.
     Leider fürchte ich, dass ich nicht Gelegenheit haben werde, mit Ihnen persönlich bekannt zu werden. Gerne möchte ich wieder die Freunde in U.S.A., von denen so viele mein Spital unterstüzen, besuchen. Aber ich darf nicht an reisen denken. Alle freie Zeit, über die ich noch verfügen kann, muss ich dazu verwenden, Arbeiten, die mir am Herzen liegen, besonders die auf philosophischen Gebiete, noch fertig zu stellen. Wollen Sie, bitte, Herr President meine besten Grüsse den Mitgliedern Irvine Burns Club übermitteln.
     Mit besten Gedanken Ihr ergebener
     Albert Schweitzer

Translation:

To the Presidents of Irvine Burns Club
     Dear Sir, Mr President,
The Irvine Burns Club has appointed me honorary member of the Club. I would like to say how much I appreciate the honour which has been bestowed on me and the expression of support which it conveys. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
     Please excuse me for not writing to you in English. I do not have sufficient command of this language to be able to express my thoughts to you properly. Pardon me also for my delay in replying. The sheer amount and diversity of the work which I have to do prevents me from writing as I ought to and would wish to. Please forgive me.
     Unfortunately, I fear that I will not have the opportunity to get to know you personally. I would like to visit again friends in the USA, so many of whom support my hospital. But I must not think of travelling. I must use any free time which still remains at my disposal to complete works which are close to my heart, especially in the field of philosophy. Mr President, would you please convey my sincere greetings to the members of Irvine Burns Club.
     With best wishes, respectfully yours,
     Albert Schweitzer.

A covering letter in English, written on 15th May by a Dutch nurse on his staff at his request, acknowledges President David Shaw's letter of 15th December, 1959, explains that Dr Schweitzer had been in Europe when it arrived and had found a great amount of work to be done on his return, and reports that he gladly accepts the honour and that our letter will be among the first to be answered.

John Grierson (1898-1972) Honorary member 1960

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from Tog Hill, Calstone, Calne, Wilts, on 25/1/60:

Notes:

Dear Sir,
    On this day, to be invited to such a company & in such a manner is as great an honour as I could seek or would want.
     I am
     Yours faithfully
     John Grierson

His letter is to Hon Secy William Phillips, Esq.

Commander Sir Stephen King-Hall (1893-1966) Honorary member 1961

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from King-Hall News-Letter, 162 Buckingham Palace Road, London, SW1, on 18th November (prob. 1960):

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips,
     Will you please inform your colleagues that I am honoured by your action in making me a member of the Irvine Burns Club.
     Yours sincerely
     Stephen King-Hall

His letter is handwritten on official King-Hall News-Letter notepaper, and addressed to Mr Phillips, Hon. Secy..

T J Honeyman (1891-1971) Honorary member 1961

His life & work:

Tom J Honeyman < biography to follow >

His letter, written from 20 Queens Gate, Dowanhill Street, Glasgow W2, on 7th November 1960:

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips
     Irvine Burns Club
     Your letter intimating the proposal to elect me as an Honorary Member of the Irvine Burns Club was received and read with very great pleasure.
    To be associated in this manner with such a famous Burns Club & to be included in such excellent and distinguished company are distinctions far beyond my merits. It is impossible for me to imagine that I possess the power to see myself as the Irvine Burns Club appears to see me - But I can assure you and your fellow members that I shall do my utmost to live up to the high calling, and, especially do what I can to advance the day - so brilliantly prophesised [sic] by our great poet.
     With renewed thanks
     T J Honeyman

His letter is to Hon Secy Mr Phillips.

Sir Bernard Lovell (1913-2012) Honorary member 1962

His life & work:

< biography to follow >

His letter, written from the University of Manchester Nuffield Radio Astronomy Laboratories, Joddrell Bank, Macclesfield, Cheshire, on Jany 18, 1962:

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips,
     I receive your letter of 5th Jany with much pleasure and I write to say how honoured I feel on the occasion of being elected an Honorary Member of the Irvine Burns Club. At some time in the future when I am in Scotland I hope it will be possible for me to visit you.
     Yours sincerely
     A B Lovell

His letter, handwritten on Joddrell Bank notepaper to Hon Secy Mr Phillips, includes his printed name and position as Professor of Radio Astronomy and Director of the Experimental Station.

Prof John DeLancey Ferguson (1888-1966) Honorary member 1962

His life & work:

Born at Scottsville, New York, Ferguson attended Rutgers and Columbia universities and started his teaching career in 1914 at Heidelberg College, going thereafter to Ohio Wesleyan and Western Reserve before Brooklyn College, serving there from 1944 until retirement in 1954. He was a Guggenheim Fellow, a member of the Modern Language Association, and a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.

His chief interest was Scottish literature, particularly Robert Burns, the first of his many important contributions to the 'Burns Chronicle' being "Cancelled Passages in the letters of Robert Burns to George Thomson" in 1929. His two-volume edition of 'The Letters of Robert Burns' appeared in 1931, and his biography of Burns, 'Pride and Passion', in 1938. He worked with James Barke and Sydney Goodsir Smith to publish 'The Merry Muses of Caledonia' in 1959.

Professor Ferguson became recognised as the foremost 20th-century authority on Robert Burns. A generous scholar, he aided others like Snyder, Carswell and Daiches. A demanding professor, he intelligently trained a generation of American students in Robert Burns.

His letter, written from Sugar Hill Road, Falls Village, Conn., on January 15, 1962:

Notes:

Dear Mr Phillips,
     I find it very flattering to be chosen as an honorary member of the Irvine Burns Club. Reading the list of your past honorary members makes me feel that I have wandered into a major league by mistake.
     Unfortunately I cannot write the holograph letter you asked for. The spirit is willing and even eager, but my hand is too much crippled to produce anything legible.
     Thank you-- and through you the whole membership of the Club-- again for the compliment you have paid me.
     Very sincerely yours,
     DeLancey Ferguson

His letter, to Hon Secy William Phillips, explains why only the signature is handwritten. He succumbed to Parkinson's in 1966.

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