1st Edition, two stapled sheets (32 cm x 20cm), 3pp (1) blank. With a copy of an accompanying publisher’s TLS (A4), on the 1320 Club’s headed stationery, to the late Mr Edward Nairn (John Updike Rare Books) charging him for copies of the present text.
A fine copy of a rare MacDiarmid item and unsophisticated publication of the notorious ‘1320 Club’. The only copies I can trace in institutions are in the NLS and one other copy in the Norman MacCaig collection at Edinburgh University. The 1320 Club was a covert Scottish Nationalist group founded in 1967 and Boothby is without doubt the most colourful of the group’s founders. Major Frederick Alexander Colquhoun Boothby (1909-1979) served in the British Army during World War II, with rumours that he was a counterintelligence agent. Following the war he moved to Hertfordshire where, as a member of a local folklore group, reports of rituals on his property involving naked teens and other sinister goings on began to circulate in the national press. He promptly relocated to the Scottish Borders where he took on the mantle of staunch Scottish nationalism. In 1963 he launched ‘Sgian Dubh’ (a newsletter referred to in his letter) several years prior to founding the 'Club', in which he gave himself the rather militant title of ‘Organisation’ (see letterhead). Boothby was indeed the most radical of a fairly rackety bunch of nationalists: he called for a "Scottish Liberation Army", which so horrified the Scottish National Party that they banned their members from joining the Club. Unbeknownst to fellow club members themselves Boothby formed the "Army of the Provisional Government", a paramilitary outfit which became known as the "Tartan Army". Initially, the group had little substance, and confined its activities to hoax bomb threats and throwing bricks through windows, but in 1975 it conducted bombings at electricity pylons and oil pipelines. Such exploits emptied the group’s sporran in a hurry and members attempted a bank robbery to replenish funds. This did not go well, as the bank they attempted to rob was closed. Boothby was arrested, convicted of conspiracy and received the rather paltry sentence of three years. Some suspected that Boothby was a double-agent working for the British secret service at the time of his paramilitary activities and as early as 1972, MacDiarmid wrote in the 1320 Club's magazine "...if Boothby is playing a double-game, he must be exposed and got rid of". Boothby’s relationship with the late bookdealer Edward Nairn, was clearly with an eye to enriching the club, as can be seen from his hand-written postscript: ‘ We might haggle about your having exclusive rights to Xerox. Should sell like hot cakes to the Yanks! I have other MacDiarmid manuscripts. FB’
Author MacDiarmid, Hugh [C. M. Grieve]
Binding stapled sheets
Publisher F.A.C. Boothby (Sandilands)