Author details

Margaret Bennett


Margaret Bennett was brought up in a family of tradition bearers — Gaelic (from the Isle of Skye) on her mother’s side and Lowland Scots on her father’s. Folklorist, ethnologist and prize-winning author, she is also well known as a singer and broadcaster. Former lecturer at the School of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh, where the late Hamish Henderson said, “Margaret embodies the spirit of Scotland”, she is widely regarded as Scotland’s foremost folklorist. She has published nine books, contributed to over thirty others, and written many articles and reviews. She has recorded several CDs, teaches part-time at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Glasgow) and lectures and sings on both sides of the Atlantic.

About writer's work

Interested in the many facets of traditional Scottish folk culture, most of her publications have a strong basis in live interviews of tradition bearers. Her best known work includes: Scottish Customs; Emigration to the New World; Traditional medicine and plantlore; Childlore; Wartime memories and songs.

Joint first prize winner of the Michaelis-Jena Ratcliff Folklore Prize, Centennial celebration of the International Folklore Congress in London, in June l991 for 'a major contribution to the study of folklore in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.' (for the book The Last Stronghold: Scottish Gaelic Traditions of Newfoundland )

Second runner-up to the Katherine Briggs Prize for Folklore, 1993 (for Scottish Customs from the Cradle to the Grave)

The Scotch Malt Whisky Society award in January 1994 'for notable service...rendered to the people of Scotland'

First prize-winner of the College of Cape Breton Prof. Donald Fergusson Essay Prize ‘for a topic relating to the study of Gaelic traditions’ (for the article, “Gaelic Song in Eastern Canada: Twentieth Century Reflections”) 199

Master Music Maker Award ‘in celebration of a lifetime of musicianship and teaching', North Carolina, USA, 1998

The Clio Award for Quebec, Canadian Historical Association/Société historique du Canada, 1999, for the book Oatmeal and the Catechism: Scottish Gaelic Settlers in Quebec

Katherine Briggs Prize for Folklore, runner-up 1999, for Oatmeal and the Catechism

Celtic Women International, Toronto, 2003, “Exceptional Celtic Woman” Award, for 'Lifelong service to Scottish and Celtic Culture'

Patron and Honorary Life Membership of the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland (TMSA), 2007

Honorary Doctor of the Royal Academy of Music and Drama, 2010

Honorary Life Fellow of the Association of Scottish Literary Studies, in recognition of contribution to Scottish literature, 2010

The Government of Quebec London Office award, le ‘Prix du Québec’ for contribution to Quebec cultural studies, 2011

Websites featuring the author

Website | Rambles | Electric Scotland | Gaelcast

Current events and projects

Theme, ideas and topics are adapted to school projects on emigration or customs or songs for example – workshops on summer schools, RSAMD, Plockton school - and elderly people – reminiscence of traditions and Customs (Most recent project: 2010—11, an oral history project in Perthshire, recording rural workers and professionals about life in the hills, glens and villages of Perthshire. The project ran training workshops for recording oral tradition, produced a touring exhibition, ran workshops of Perthshire songs (Gaelic, Scots and English) and produced a book with CD, In Our Day.... Stories and Songs from rural Perthshire, Grace Note Publications, 2010. Themed lectures and workshops offered to the widest age range, large or small groups of different ages and abilities. Visit web site: for more information on forthcoming events.


Local authority where they are based

Perth and Kinross

Local authorities where they can work

Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles), Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow, Highland, Inverclyde, Midlothian, Moray, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Orkney, Perth and Kinross, Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, Shetland, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire, West Lothian, Other

Age groups

5-8, 9-12, Teens, Adults

LL funded


BRAW network


Author type

Storyteller, Writer



Books written

Dileab Ailein: The Legacy of Allan MacArthur - Newfoundland Traditions Across Four Generations

Author(s): Margaret Bennett
This book discusses the history and traditions of a community of Scottish Gaels who emigrated from the Isle of Canna and Moidart in the nineteenth century and settled in the Codroy Valley, Newfoundlan

It's Not the Time You Have...': Notes and Memories of Music-Making with Martyn Bennett

Author(s): Margaret Bennett
'It's Not the Time you have ...' Notes and Memories of Music Making with Martyn Bennett: features notes and memories of music-making of artist Martyn Bennett.

Oatmeal and the Catechism: Scottish Gaelic Settlers in Quebec

Author(s): Margaret Bennett
This work records the oral history, folklore and folk-life of emigrants from the Outer Hebrides to Quebec in the 19th century.

Customs from the Cradle to the Grave

Author(s): Margaret Bennett
A highly readable and absorbing anthology of traditional Scottish customs and rites of passage, Scottish Customs from the Cradle to the Grave draws upon a broad range of literary and oral sources.

Recollections of a Argyllshire Drover: And Other Selected Papers (Eric Cregeen, edited Margaret Bennett)

Author(s): Margaret Bennett
Edited by Margaret Bennett. During his appointment as Glasgow University Extra Mural Department's first Resident Tutor in Argyll, Eric Cregeen pioneered research into the Papers of Argyll Esta

'See when You look Back...' Clydeside Reminiscences of the Home Front, 1939-45

Author(s): Margaret Bennett
2005 paperback. Memories of Clydeside 1939-45. Published by The Mitchell Library.