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William Croft Dickinson facts for kids

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William Croft Dickinson, CBE (28 August 1897 – May 1963) was an English historian, a leading expert in the history of early modern Scotland and an author of both children's fiction and adult ghost stories.


Dickinson was born in Leicester. He was raised in Yorkshire and educated at Mill Hill School in London. In the earlier years of his academic career, which began in the 1920s, his published scholarship focused on editing the court books of early modern sheriff courts. In 1940 he was appointed Sir William Fraser Professor of Scottish History and Palaeography at the University of Edinburgh, becoming the first English-born occupant of this Chair — the oldest and most distinguished Scottish history professorship in the world. Dickinson held the post longer than anyone before or since. In this phase of his career, the focus of Dickinson's work shifted in the direction of the Scottish Reformation and general works for students, but he continued to pursue major editorial projects, including the writings of John Knox and the records of the medieval burgh of Aberdeen.

In addition to his personal scholarship, he worked to build up and raise the profile of The Scottish Historical Review, widely regarded today as the world's leading periodical for current research on Scottish history, efforts which his successor Gordon Donaldson considered to have been Dickinson's most important contribution to Scottish history.

Alongside his academic writings, Dickinson was an accomplished author of children's fantasy stories as well as traditional ghost stories for readers of all ages, publishing a number of books during his time in the Fraser Chair.

Dickinson was made a CBE in the 1963 New Year honours list, just months before his sudden death.



  • The Study of Scottish History (1945) (short paper)
  • John Galt, "The Provost" and the Burgh (1954) (short paper)
  • The Scottish Reformation and Its Influence upon Scottish Life and Character (1960) (short paper)
  • Scotland from the Earliest Times to 1603 (1961; 2nd edn 1965; 3rd edn 1977)

Edited works

  • The Sheriff Court Book of Fife: 1515-1522 (1928)
  • The Court Book of the Barony of Carnwath, 1523-1542 (1937)
  • John Knox's History of the Reformation in Scotland (1949)
  • A Source Book of Scottish history (1952; 2nd edn 1958) (co-editor with G. Donaldson and I. A. Milne)
  • Two Students at St. Andrews, 1711-1716 (1952) (short paper)
  • Early Records of the Burgh of Aberdeen: 1317, 1398-1407 (1957)

Children's and general fiction

  • Borrobil (1944)
  • The Eildon Tree (1947)
  • The Flag from the Isles (1951)
  • The Sweet Singers, and Three Other Remarkable Occurrents (1953) (collection)
  • Return at Dusk (1953)
  • Can These Stones Speak (1953)
  • The Eve of St. Botulph (1953)
  • The Sweet Singers (1953)
  • His Own Number (1963)
  • The House of Balfother (1963)
  • The Witch's Bone (1963)
  • The Return of the Native (1963)
  • Dark Encounters (1963) (collection)
  • The Keepers of the Wall (1968)
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