New Up Helly Aa Book Released

by Deborah Leggate -

Shetland Heritage Publications is pleased to announce the release of an important new work about Shetland literature and Up Helly Aa. The book will be officially launched at Shetland Museum and Archives prior to the Jarl Squad visit on Up Helly Aa day.

Local author Brydon Leslie wrote Borgar Jarl: J.J. Haldane Burgess and Up Helly Aa as a dissertation for the University of the Highlands and Islands. The book discusses the blind Shetland scholar whose ideas were so important for the development of the fire festival in the late nineteenth century.

Burgess was brought up in the Baptist faith, one of the creeds which inspired Shetlanders in the Victorian era, and in the 1890s he became a passionate socialist. At the same time, he was reading and thinking about the culture of ancient Scandinavia. Like other Shetlanders of his time he regarded the Viking past, and the literature about it, as inspiring. 

Burgess wove together the ideas from these three sources to create the vibrant annual festival which has flourished from that day till this. Brydon's work shows in detail how he did so. The publication is illustrated with photographs and paintings from Up Helly Aa's past and from Scandinavian sources.

Borgar Jarl will be launched in the Shetland Museum and Archives foyer at 2.00p.m. on 31st January, Up Helly Aa day. Ex-jarl Douglas Smith will introduce and officially launch the book, while Brydon will be signing copies, available to purchase at £7.99.