(This bibliography is not exhaustive, but does contain all the main books by Miller, and biographies and critical studies of him, as well as books for which he has provided inspiration, and books by his family.)


HUGH MILLER - stonemason, geologist, writer

by Michael A Taylor

National Museums of Scotland Publishing, Edinburgh 2007.

ISBN 978-1-905267-05-7. £12.99


The first full-length, authoritative biography of Hugh Miller to be published for over 130 years, and in it the man has been rescued from the dubious speculations which have cast shadows over his name in the recent past.


Dr Taylor, principal curator of vertebrate palaeontology in National Museums Scotland, presents the real Hugh Miller as he understood himself and was known to his contemporaries.


From his and others' exhaustive researches, Dr Taylor can find no evidence to support the various sensational interpretations of his character which have featured in some melodramatic productions and even critical studies.


Instead of a riven personality, confused and mythologising about his identity, Miller re-emerges in his true colours as the self-taught geologist, a poet of science, a front-rank journalist, who well knew his place as "one of the living forces of Scotland."


Best of all, Miller is allowed to speak for himself through substantial excerpts from his most accessible writings, presenting the "intermeshing streams of (his) work, family life, religion, and science."


This is definitely not hagiography, however. Dr Taylor is objective, equally candid about his subject's rough edges, scientific mistakes, and scathing criticisms, as he is generous to Miller the man and his multiple talents.


A foreword by great great grand-daughter Marian McKenzie Johnston establishes wife Lydia's contribution to the story, while Dr Taylor adds a judicious assessment of the notorious Williamson Memoir. An informative and amusing foreword by local historian David Alston traces Miller's impact on Cromarty at the time and since.


The book, at a mere 176 pages, packed with detail and illustrations, is a marvel of compression, and a very easy read for a work of the highest academic standards.



The Cruise of the Betsey

(with Rambles of a Geologist)

by Hugh Miller

Facsimile edition published 2003

With Introduction and additional notes by Dr Michael Taylor, Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology at the National Museums of Scotland

and Preface by

Historiographer Royal Professor T C Smout

ISBN 1 901 663 54 X

NMS Publishing, Edinburgh, £20.

(Paperback, 576 pages, 4 maps)

You will find here the full range of Hugh MIller's interests - the lyrical descriptions of the scenery and accounts of beautiful fossils show a deep affection for the Scottish landscape, while his role as a serious religious journalist and social crusader is highlighted in his discussions on the Clearances, the Disruption in the Kirk, and their consequences.

'The magic works: his books are still an absorbing read in the 21st Century.' New Scientist

'I warmly recommend this marvellously rambling book, which is full of sensitivity and poetry, to anyone who loves Scotland or is a humanist, a sociologist, an ethnologist, a geologist, a palaeontologist or just a fossil fan.'


'Much of the "added value" of the present reprint lies in the invaluable Introduction and Notes of Dr Michael Taylor.'

History of Geology Group, Geological Society of London

Note: Please contact NMS Publishing, Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF (Tel 0131 247 4026), (email: pubishing@nms.ac.uk) to obtain the book at £17.50 p/p free.

Please mention http://www.hughmiller.org/ when you order.


Lydia, Wife of Hugh Miller of Cromarty, by Elizabeth Sutherland. Tuckwell Press, £9.99 (ISBN 1-86232-221-X).

Now, the wife's turn in the spotlight - and about time too! The first biography of Lydia Mackenzie Falconer Fraser tells of her "genteel" upbringing in Surrey and Edinburgh, and of her romance, and eventual marriage to the stonemason-poet Hugh Miller. The indispensible supporter of his work as an Editor, she became an accomplished author herself, including a series of best-selling children's books under the pseudonuym Harriet Myrtle. She saw to the posthumous publication of many of Miller's books following, but many traumatic years of ill health followed. A "must read", the renowned Black Isle author Elizabeth Sutherland treats her subject with both sympathy and candour, and brings much new light on the life of the family.

Available at the Museum, or to order from The Friends..




First Impressions of England and its People, by Hugh Miller, Dodo Press, 297pp, £13.99 (ISBN 978-1-4099-6618-0)


“First Impressions of England and Its People”, Hugh Miller’s riveting account of a tour of our southern neighbours in 1845, has been republished after an interval of nearly 30 years.

It encompassing his descriptions of York, Durham, Newcastle, Leeds, Manchester, Stratford-upon-Avon, Birmingham, and London.

No gentleman tourist, despite his by then esteemed position as editor of The Witness, Miller recounted meetings with people of all classes on railway journeys, in horse-drawn coaches, at inns, in cheap London eating houses, and on his walks. He much disliked the railways, but he was a key eyewitness to this and other rapid change brought about by the Industrial Revolution, while simultaneously conducting geological field trips, notably in the Dudley coal measures and the Leasowes district of the West Midlands.

Publishers the Dodo Press  specialise in reintroducing rare and out-of-print books,

 Order First Impressions online through the publisher, Book Depository or other online bookseller.

JAMIE’S ADVENTURES IN TIME: Finding Hugh Miller.  by Lesley Beake; For the Right Reasons, Inverness, 136pp.£4.99 (ISBN 978-1-905787-61-6).

The following is an extract of the review for Hugh’s News No 14, Summer 2012, from leading Scottish author and Friends member James Robertson.

Jamie Alexander is an unruly teenager, abandoned by his father and a constant worry to his mother (who is not as caring of him as she might be). Banished from his London school after a fatal accident and a potentially disastrous act of criminality, Jamie is sent in disgrace to his grandfather, who lives at what Jamie considers the end of the earth, i.e. Cromarty. The relationship between boy and old man, at first hostile, gradually softens, and the agent of change is none other than Hugh Miller, whose youthful adventures – not entirely dissimilar to Jamie’s – begin to speak to him across a gap of 200 years.


First through the ghost stories in the opening pages of My Schools and Schoolmasters, then in conversations with his wise but also rebellious grandfather, and also through the intercession of a strange, pale ‘ghost-girl’ called Alice, Jamie becomes interested in both the legend and the real life story of Miller. With an enviably light touch – the clarity of the narrative is exemplary – Lesley Beake guides Jamie (and the reader) through Miller’s schooldays, his employment as a mason, his early interest in geology, his wooing of Lydia Fraser, and so forth. Even the Disruption and his editing of The Witness – challenging subjects with which to engage young minds in any age! – are deftly dealt with. By the end of this short book the reader has acquired more than a passing knowledge of who Miller was and what he achieved, which will surely plant the seeds for further investigation in the future.


The author, through Jamie’s chippy opinions, doesn’t disguise the fact that Miller’s prose can be demanding, and so mostly paraphrases rather than quotes direct from it; but at the same time she makes it clear that there are many delights to be found in his works for those who persevere.


Perseverance – not giving up at the first hurdle – is the lesson that Jamie learns from his grandfather. Lesley Beake also seems to know just when to break off from telling us about Hugh to return to Jamie’s own story, which peaks in an exciting episode at the cave below the South Sutor, the very same cave where as a boy Hugh also nearly came to grief.


I enjoyed this novel greatly. I was much intrigued by Alice. It is still not clear to me whether she really existed or whether she was a kind of guardian spirit to Jamie in his time of need. Perhaps both – in which case she is almost a character born of one of Miller’s own tales!


What matters more, however, is that anybody, young or old, who reads this book – and it doesn’t take long – will come away with a real sense of Cromarty and of its most famous son. In this respect, but also as an entertainment, Jamie’s Adventures in Time does a very fine job.


Available at NTS bookshops, the Museum, and by mail order through The Friends.



Man of Genius, by Harriet Miller Davidson, For the Right Reasons, Inverness. 292pp, £7.99, ISBN 978-1-905787-64-7.


The story of a 19th Century Church minister’s fall into alcoholism and his ultimate recovery; a novel written by Hugh Miller’s eldest daughter Harriet, originally published in 1872.


Sir Gilbert’s Children, by Harriet Miller Davidson, For the Right Reasons, Inverness, 80pp, £4.50. ISBN 978-1-905787-66-1.


The Miller family life recreated at their last home in Shrub Mount, Portobello, with Hugh and Lydia cast as Sir Gilbert and Lady Munro. They are in some ways not all that recognisable, but the four children including Harriet herself are convincing, and their adventures genuinely exciting.


Both Harriet’s novels and Jamie’s Adventures in Time have been published, at his own expense, by Henry McKenzie Johnston in memory of his late wife, Marian, Harriet’s great grand-daughter, and proceeds from sales are to be shared between the publishers and The Friends. All three can be obtained by mail order from The Friends (p & p free). Jamie’s Adventures is also available at NTS bookshops.


Hugh Miller, a One-man Play by Stewart Conn; Diehard, Callander, £2.50 (ISBN 0 946230 70 6)

This tour de force of a play, now published for the first time, received its first award-winning performance at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1988. It has since enjoyed two revivals by Scottish repertory companies. Set on the last night of Miller’s life, it vividly conjures up Miller’s early days, the lucidity of his thought on the wonders of the Natural World … and the turmoil of his last months.

Much of the dialogue derives its authenticity in quoting from Miller’s own writings, and as such offers useful reference material, while the speculation on the psychological strains behind his final act is also founded on the available evidence. 


Celebrating the Life and Times of Hugh Miller: Scotland in the Early 19th Century, ed Lester Borley. Cromarty Arts Trust. Pp352. £13.50 (ISBN 0 906265 33 9)

A collection of papers presented at the international Bicentenary conference in Cromarty, 10-12 October 2002


Hugh Miller in Context: The Cromarty Years and the Edinburgh Years, ed Lester Borley. Cromarty Arts Trust. 112p, £7.50 (ISBN 0 901625 74 4)

A collection of Papers presented at two Bicentenary conferences.
The Cromarty Years (2000) and The Edinburgh Years (2001).
Edited by Lester Borley.

My Schools and Schoolmasters, autobiography (paperback, £8.99, B & W Publishing, Edinburgh 1993)

Scenes and Legends of the North of Scotland, folklore collection (paperback, £11.99 (B&W Publishing, Edinburgh 1994)

A Noble Smuggler & Other Stories, early journalism (paperback with 8 illustrations, £6.99, Martin Gostwick, Inverness 1997). On sale at Waterstone’s Inverness, at the Museum, or by mail order from  the author

The Legend of Hugh Miller
, short biography by Martin Gostwick, (Cromarty Courthouse Publication, 1993).

Hugh Miller's Memoir, edited by Michael Shortland, (early autobiography, paperback, Edinburgh University Press, 1995)

Hugh Miller and the Controversies of Victorian Science, edited by Michael Shortland (contentious critical essays, hardback, £49.50 Oxford University Press, 1996)


All these works, except those marked with an asterisk, may be read and studied in the archive library at the Museum. If anyone in possession of Miller titles should wish to donate, or sell works by or about Hugh Miller, please contact Martin Gostwick.

A fuller bibliography can be consulted in an appendix to the book Hugh Miller and the Controversies of Victorian Science (see above).

Poems Written in the Leisure Hours of a Journeyman Mason, R Carruthers, Inverness 1829.

Letters on the Herring Fishery in the Moray Frith, Inverness, R Carruthers, Inverness 1829.*

Scenes and Legends of the North of Scotland, A & C Black, Edinburgh 1835.

Letter from one of the Scotch People to the Rt Hon Lord Brougham & Vaux, John Johnstone, Edinburgh 1839

The Whiggism of the Old School, John Johnstone, Edinburgh, 1839.*

Memoir of William Forsyth Esq, a Scotch Merchant of the 18th Century, Stewart and Murray, London 1839.*

The Old Red Sandstone or New Walks in an Old Field, John Johnstone, Edinburgh, 1841.

First Impressions of England and its People, John Johnstone, London 1847.

Footprints of the Creator, or the Asterolopis of Stromness, Johnstone and Hunter, London 1849.

Hugh Miller on National Education, W P Nimmo, Edinburgh 1850.

The Testimony of the Rocks, Thomas Constable & Co, Edinburgh, 1857.

The Cruise of the Betsey, or A Summer Ramble among the Fossiliferous Deposits of the Hebrides; with Rambles of a Geologist, or Ten Thousand Miles over the Fossiliferous Depsoits of Scotland, Thomas Constable & Co, Edinburgh 1858.

Sketchbook of Popular Geology, with preface by Lydia Miller, Thomas Constable & Co, Edinburgh 1859.

The Headship of Christ, and the Rights of the Christian People, A & C Black, Edinburgh 1861.

Essays, Historical and Biographical, Political and Social, Literary and Scientific, A & C Black, Edinburgh 1862.

Tales and Sketches, edited with a preface by Lydia Miller, W P Nimmo, Edinburgh 1863.

Edinburgh and its Neighbourhood, Geological and Historical: with The Geology of the Bass Rock, edited by Lydia Miller, A & C Black, Edinburgh 1864.

Leading Articles on Various Subjects, W P Nimmo, Edinburgh 1870.

Testimony of the Rocks by Hugh Miller. Contains 152 engravings. With an introduction by Dr Michael A Taylor, Curator of Vertebrate Palaeontology at the National Museums of Scotland. (£8.99, St Matthew Publishing Ltd, Cambridge 2001) ISBN 1901546.


The Life and Letters of Hugh Miller, by the Rev Peter Bayne, 2 vols, Strahan & Co, London 1871.

The Life and Writings of Hugh Miller, by W Bingham, George W Wood, New York 1859.*

Labour and Triumph. The Life and Writings of Hugh Miller, by Thomas N Brown, Richard Griffin & Co, London and Glasgow, 1858.

Cromarty: being a Tourist's Visit to the Birthplace of Hugh Miller, Nicholas Dickson, Thomas Murray, Glasgow 1858.

Life of Hugh Miller by Jean L Watson, James Gemmell, Edinburgh 1880.

Hugh Miller, by W Keath Leask (in Famous Scots series) Oliphant, Anderson and Ferrier, Edinburgh 1896.

Mrs Hugh Miller's Journal (edited by Lydia Miller Mackay),
Chambers Journal, 6th Series, 19 April to 19 July 1902.

Hugh Miller: A Critical Study by W M Mackenzie. Hodder & Stoughton, London 1905.

Selections from the Writings of Hugh Miller, edited by W M Mackenzie, Alexander Gardner, Paisley 1908.

Hugh Miller: The Cromarty Stonemason, by Charles D Waterston. National Trust for Scotland, 1966.

Hugh Miller, an opera in two acts by Reginald Barrett-Ayres, world premiered Edinburgh, August 1974. Souvenir Programme.

Hugh Miller: Outrage and Order. A biography and selected writings by George Rosie, Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh 1981. Pp233, £13.95 (ISBN  0 906391 17 2)

Introduction to Hugh Miller's Memoir, by M Shortland and H Hanham, ps 266, Edinburgh University Press (ISBN 0-7486-0521 -5).

The memoir itself is reprinted, with Shortland’s none too complimentary gloss.

Hugh Miller and the Controversies of Victorian Science, ed Michael Shortland, Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1996. Pp401. (ISBN 0 -198 54053 – 1).

A most extensive reference work on all facets of Miller’s life and work, including essays by such luminaries as David Oldroyd, John Henry, Donald Macleod, David Alston and David Robb. Shortland’s introduction is highly contentious, and a refutation is available on request.

The Legend of Hugh Miller and A Noble Smuggler and Other Stories, both by Martin Gostwick (as above).



Scottish Fossils, by Nigel H Trewin. Dunedin Press, 2013. 118pp, £30. (ISBN 978-1-78046-010-2).

The book provides a virtual museum gallery of over 100 Scottish fossils. The chosen specimens represent a range from bacteria to fish and dinosaurs, and all are illustrated in colour. Many of the specimens are important to the history of geology in Scotland, or superbly preserved specimens such as fossil fish from the Old Red Sandstone. The specimens are held in museum, university and private collections, and only a few are on public display. Several specimens from the Hugh Miller Collection in National Museums Scotland are included, as are examples of the fossil fish studied by Hugh Miller and featured in his geological writings.

Fossils Alive!, or New Walks in an Old Field,  bv Nigel H Trewin. Dunedin Press. Pp211, £19.95 (ISBN 978-1-903765-88-3)

Travel back millions of years in time to join wildlife safaris and visit, as though a time-traveller, ancient environments teeming with life. As the fossils come alive experience and understand the fauna, flora and landscapes to be seen at ten localities in the geological past of Scotland.

The Earth on Show: Fossils and the Poetics of Popular Science, 1802-1856, by Dr Ralph O’Connor. The University of Chicago Press, 2007, pp541 (ISBN 13:978-0-226-61668-1).

An epic masterpiece about the emergence of the natural sciences, as expounded in their writings  by the leading practitioners, to become subjects which enthralled audiences worldwide, foremost among them Hugh Miller.

Robert Dick, by Samuel Smiles, John Murray, London, 1905. Biography of the great Thurso baker and naturalist, with extensive passages relating to collaboration with Miller.






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