2 May 2012 / Books

Punch & Judy in Scotland

by Martin MacGilp

My research project on the history of puppets and ventriloquism in Scotland was commenced some 15 years ago. In 2002 I received a research award from the Society for Theatre Research, which was put to good use that year to help defray travel and accommodation costs. In order to access primary source material, evidence has been sought widely, including local authority archives and libraries, newspapers, and genealogical sources. A few articles have been published in puppetry journals, but now a longer work is available – A Timber Idol: Mr Punch in Scotland. This book covers some early references to puppets in Scotland including the puppet character who was to become Mr Punch, and reveals some of the performers and show families who have kept this comical folk-play alive over the centuries. Various chapters discuss Mr Punch on the streets, at fairgrounds, on the beach, at bazaars and fetes, and also on the Music hall stage. The book continues right up to contemporary times, and offers some thoughts for the future. Listings of relevant books and organisations have been included to assist those who may themselves have a desire to perform Punch and Judy.

The book is paperbound, has more than 200 pages, over 100 photographs, several tables and appendices, and is fully-indexed. ISBN 978-0-9571881-0-5. Copies of this book will be available from from late May or early June, for £25 plus p&p. As an introductory offer, members of the Society for Theatre Research can obtain the book sent post-free to a UK address by sending a cheque for £25 made payable to “Gilpress” to Martin MacGilp, 10 Cullernie Gardens, Balloch, Inverness IV2 7JP. Any queries please contact me on