• Boyd Letters


1st March, 1949.

Dear St.John Ervine,

Thank you very much for sending me a proof copy of
Craigavon and also your long letter. The delay In answering
both is due to the fact that I am having trouble with my wisdom
teeth and trying to forget the toothache by reading Craigavon
before sending it out to be read by your reviewer. Unfortun-
ately I am not allowed to do it myself, and indeed I am not
capable of the job. I am now about one-third way through it
and am full of admiration. It's a big book in every sense,
and it seems to me a work of scholarship and of far-reaching
scope. Whether your thesis is or is not right I just don’t
know, and most of my ingrained protestant prejudices are in
favour of your arguments. You have of course put up a most
formidable case and it will be interesting reading and listening
to people who will try to knock you down. What I did whole-
heartedly admire was your prose, which in Craigavon is of rare
vintage. The book was obviously a labour of love and must
have given you great enjoyment to write. I met Craigavon only
once and was not in the least impressed by him and his appear-
ance had no attraction at all for me; but your portrayal of
his character seemed to me so sane and balanced and just that
I am almost won over. In other words you have mesmerised me
and I hope to come to my senses within the next fortnight,
probably having lost my wisdom teeth during the same period.

I don't yet know who will be chosen to review Craigavon.
We are offering the job to Professor Moody, now of Trinity
College Dublin, but for a long time lecturer at Queen’s, and of
course a Belfastman and an Ulsterman. He is one of our most
distinguished historians and should be able to discuss the book
intelligently. He is a bit of a dry stick personally but he
is considered a very sound historian. At least he won’t butter
you up: the probability is that he will pierce your armour
at various places, and we of course will give him a free hand.
At the moment he is in Leeds and I have not yet got his
acceptance. If he does not want to do the job I’ll think of
somebody else and inform you as soon as a decision is reached.

I am rushing off now to take part in one of those dreadful
Quiz programmes whose continuing popularity I can never understand.

John Boyd
1949 Mar 1st
Linen Hall Library, "Boyd002", Northern Ireland Literary Archive, accessed Wed, 09/30/2020 - 09:33, https://www.niliteraryarchive.com/content/boyd002