The People’s Voice Anthology presents forty-nine poems from locations across Scotland and for each of the periods most associated with franchise extension in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: 1832, 1867-8, 1884 and 1918. These poems have been selected according to a range of criteria: geographic spread; authorship; thematic variety; medium; quality; style and form; their dramatis personae; and their ability to evoke the times in which they were written.
The poems are organised in four parts. By reading across these parts you can see the changing interests and personalities that fuelled the demand for the vote; reading closely within each part you can see how various interests used poetry and song to evoke conflicting perspectives on the process of democratisation.
Each poem is accompanied by a paragraph explaining the context in which the poem was written, the personalities mentioned in the poem, and important events. How these poems relate to other forms of political action – voting, parading, public speaking – is also evident in many. We come to hear the voice of the excluded – men of little property, the unregistered, women – and those who defended such exclusion.
Together these poems illustrate the diverse tradition that is Scottish political poetry and song, and the compilers of this anthology are hopeful that they might inspire further work in this area.