Creative Dundee

The Broons Beat Burns

Apparently if you were born before 1945, you’re more likely to favour DC Thomson comic publications than Scottish literature. Oor Wullie is the most read, so say the findings of a three-year ‘Scottish Readers Remember’ project, which explored the reading habits of Scots born on or before 1945.

Researchers at Edinburgh’s Napier University have found that comics such as The Broons, Oor Wullie and even the People’s Friend, produced by Dundee’s DC Thomson, dwarfed offerings by more highbrow authors like Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns.

Professor Alistair McCleery, Director of the Scottish Centre for the Book, who led the study said: “Almost all the interviewees we spoke to said Oor Wullie and The Broons was a key part of their reading experience, whether in The Sunday Post or the Christmas annuals.

“Their adventures were keenly read and enjoyed by children, parents and grandparents and, in many respects, Oor Wullie was very much like Harry Potter for that generation of Scots.

“However much they were aware of writers such as Sir Walter Scott and Robert Burns, they were associated with the dull but worthy set texts of education or rituals of Burns Night rather than something to be read for pleasure or entertainment.

“Almost without fail, the exception to the lack of interest in Scottish literature was popular fiction from the DC Thomson stable, such as the contents of The People’s Friend and the stories of Oor Wullie and The Broons.”

So it appears we have something of wide appeal and cultural significance to people in Scotland… Perhaps this could be a starting point for DC Thomson to consider showcasing their vast collections in their city, to promote the city internationally…

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