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Dr Jamie Reid-Baxter, editor of the poetry of Elizabeth Melville, Lady Culross, will look at the links between the work of the calligrapher and poet Esther Inglis (1571-1624), daughter of Huguenot refugees in Edinburgh, and the poetry produced by the ‘spiritual community’ that flourished in Fife around the Rev. James Melville (1554-1614). Melville was a national figure, a leading spokesman for the presbyterian wing of the Kirk, and shared the francophilia of his celebrated uncle Andrew Melville (1545-1622), a noted Latin poet. James Melville’s involvement with French protestant culture extended to making a substantial and highly politicised poetic paraphrase of a Latin sylva by the great Genevan theologian Theodore Beza (1519-1605), on the David and Bathsheba story and the origins of Psalm 51. Andrew Melville was a great admirer of the work and spirituality of Esther Inglis, and Dr Reid-Baxter has now identified a direct link between Inglis and James Melville. Currently known only as a calligrapher, Inglis also wrote verse, in both French and Anglo-Scots, including paraphrases of the astonishing Cinquante Octonaires sur la vanité du monde published in 1583 by the pastor Antoine de la Roche Chandieu. Jacobean presbyterian ‘high culture’ is proving to be far richer than anyone imagined 20 years ago.
Edinburgh, United Kingdom