Granite City greats

Granite City greats

A new series of free public lectures will celebrate some of the greatest names to hail from the Granite City.

The University of Aberdeen’s Research Institute of Scottish and Irish Studies and Aberdeen City Council has organised Great Aberdonians – to celebrate the achievements of former residents of the city.

The series of six public talks will get underway on November 2 as Professor William Naphy outlines the life of astronomer and medic Duncan Liddel (1561-1613).

Liddel was one of the major academic figures of the University of Aberdeen’s first century, famed for his work in mathematics and other disciplines, including medicine.

Other great names to feature in the series include Patrick Gordon (1635-1699), a general of the Imperial Russian Army who played a central role in one of the great political transformations in European History, as the military mentor of Tsar Peter the Great of Russia.

The moral philosopher and poet James Beattie (1735-1803) is the topic of the third lecture, followed by Donald Smith of Forres, later Lord Strathcona (1820-1914), James MacAndrew (1819-1888) the first Superintendent of the Province of Otago and finally George Reid (1841-1913) a highly successful and enormously influential artist in the second half of the nineteenth century.

The series has been organised by Dr Michael Brown, lecturer in History at the University of Aberdeen who said he was inspired to celebrate the lives of great Aberdonians by a speech made by the Lord Provost.

“I heard the Lord Provost talk about the idea of a campaign for pride in the city at the annual ambassadors’ dinner,” he added.

“The Institute decided that one of the things we could do is to use research generated by our research community to talk about the achievements of Aberdonians and what the history of this city has contributed to the wider world.”

He added that the six lectures cover a wide period from Early Modern to the late 19th Century.

“The people featured in the talks were contributors to some of the big trends in history from the scientific and military revolutions, to the enlightenment and on through to imperialism,” Dr Brown said.

“Each lecture will take on one of these big moments and a great Aberdonian figure, placing them at the heart of it.”

Dr Brown said one of the key aims of the lecture series is to highlight the achievements of those who are not necessarily well known, or who are not always associated with the city of Aberdeen.

“Duncan Liddel, the subject of the first public lecture, is not someone always associated with the city yet he was born in the city, was a graduate of King’s College and a benefactor of Marschal,” he added.

“Similarly James MacAndrew is known for his connections to New Zealand and yet he hailed from Aberdeen.

“We also hope that those who come along to the lectures will also learn more about figures they may already associate with Aberdeen, like Robert Gordon, but not be fully aware of their achievements.”

Each of the talks in the Great Aberdonians series will begin at 7.30pm in the Town and Country Hall, Town House, Union Street, Aberdeen.

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