I earned a Ph.D. in Celtic Studies from the University of Edinburgh (see Curriculum Vitae at this link and an autobiographical summary on this webpage). I am a pioneering scholar with a passion for and proven track record of recovering and interpreting a wide range of Scottish Highland history, culture, literature, and tradition from Scotland itself and the North American diaspora.
My scholarship has been used for the Outlander series and the forthcoming PBS documentary Voices Over the Water. I have studied with the giants of Scottish Gaelic Studies, worked in Gaelic communities in Scotland and Nova Scotia, and have given public talks and scholarly presentations at such venues as the Smithsonian and the US Library of Congress.
I created Hidden Glen Folk School because many people are yearning to have meaningful contact with Scottish Highland tradition, history and culture, and to drink from the authentic well-springs of their heritage. I know this because I have received dozens of enthusiastic letters and emails from readers of my work over the years, many of whom do not have access to qualified teachers and tradition-bearers. The historical marginalization of the native language of the Highlands, Gaelic, and the study of its culture in the academy makes access to experts all the more difficult.
“… Someone so in love with a language and culture that the largest themes are easily apparent and the smallest details treasured. Luckily for us and for the history of the Gaelic tongue and diaspora into the New World, Michael Newton is just such a one.”Diana Gabaldon in Foreword to Seanchaidh na Coille / Memory-Keeper of the Forest
“Let potential readers thus be well reassured regarding gaelophone Newton’s professional credentials: he is a diligent primary-source researcher, a highly sophisticated cultural thinker, and a cage-rattling radical.”– Scottish Gaelic poet Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh
“Michael Newton is quite simply a legend; an uncompromising, progressive, cultured and highly inquisitive scholar with a prolific pen and a lion heart. While so many acquiesce, not quite grasping the gravity of Scottish Gaelic’s perilous situation, Michael Newton acts. He has done more for the cause of the language in North America than any other before him in order that its rightful, rich legacy be recognised, celebrated and made available for academic study within the United States, something which is at least a century overdue.”– Àdhamh Ó Broin, Gaelic scholar and activist, consultant for Outlander
My keen interest in human ecology and indigeneity inspired me to research the symbolism of trees in Scottish Gaelic literature and tradition for my Ph.D. dissertation, but driven by my passion for Gaelic research, I’ve written a number of further groundbreaking studies on previously under-explored topics:
- Bho Chluaidh gu Calasraid / From the Clyde to Callendar (1999), the first collection of Gaelic texts from the Lennox and Menteith.
- The Handbook of the Scottish Gaelic World (2000), the first holistic introduction to Scottish Highland culture and tradition, framing it both in terms of coloniality and indigeneity. Warriors of the Word: The World of the Scottish Highlanders (2009, 2019) is an expanded and revised version of this approach.
- We’re Indians Sure Enough: The Legacy of the Scottish Highlanders in the United States (2001), the first collection of Gaelic texts created by Scottish Highland immigrants in the United States and historical account based on these primary sources.
- The Naughty Little Book of Gaelic (2014), the first collection of censored words, expressions and texts from Scottish Gaelic tradition.
- Seanchaidh na Coille / Memory-Keeper of the Forest: Anthology of Scottish-Gaelic Literature of Canada (2015), the first anthology of Scottish Gaelic literature composed by the many Highland immigrants in Canada and analysis of what it tells us about their experiences.
- (with Prof Wilson McLeod) An Ubhal as Àirde / The Highest Apple (2019), the first comprehensive anthology of Scottish Gaelic literature, and winner of the Best Non-fiction Book of 2020 (Donald Meek Prize) from the Gaelic Books Council.
“I consider that he stands in and helps to amplify the tradition he has absorbed from native Gaels. His books, beginning with his Handbook of the Scottish Gaelic World, moving through major works like Warriors of the Word and into his more recent work on Gaels in North America, have positioned him as a major scholar of our times. As an American, he has often brought an outside eye that sheds new light in certain areas – ontology and ecology in particular – where this was needed to let the tradition move and breathe more fully as a living rather than a fossilised tradition.”– Prof Alastair McIntosh, University of Glasgow
This webpage has a short autobiographical account and a partial catalog of my scholarship, public engagement, and various projects. An extensive selection of my scholarly articles can be found on this academia.edu webpage. You can also find a large number of articles about many aspects of Scottish Highland history, culture, literature, and tradition on my Patreon website (some open to general public, others reserved for patrons). I’ve begun producing The Hidden Glen podcast to share this heritage with you, and interviews with important people from the Scottish Highland world, in audio format (join FaceBook group here).
“Hidden Glen” evokes Gleann Falach (anglicized as “Glen Falloch”) on the West Highland Way just north of Loch Lomond. It is within the territory whose Gaelic traditions I included in my first book-length volume, Bho Chluaidh gu Calasraid / From the Clyde to Callander, and I cherish the memories of many walks I have enjoyed there. The Hidden Glen logo was created by Scottish Gaelic speaker and artist Críostóir Piondargás.
I wish to recognize and thank the many teachers of many kinds who have shared so much of their wisdom, experience, knowledge, hopes and sorrows with me along this journey. We are all bound together by the delicate, intricate, and exquisite chain of tradition and love of that tradition.