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James Brown (1832-1904) - Poet

He was born in Galashiels and his childhood was spent in the neighbouring Border town of Selkirk, which was to be his home for the rest of his life. Coming from a mill-owning family. Brown entered his father's tweed-
manufacturing business, after being educated at Selkirk Grammar School and Edinburgh Institution, but he was unsuited to a career in commerce. He retired early after the collapse of his firm in 1870, and until his death on 25 December 1904 his life was spent in local civic affairs. Taking the name of his adopted town as his pseudonym, Brown became a frequent contributor to Blackwood's Magazine and Chambers's Journal on a variety of religious and poetic topics; his study Bible Truths with Shakespearean Parallels was published in 1857.  His collections of verse of 1883 and 1896 enjoyed a wide popularity for their simple and unaffected descriptions of Border landscapes and for Brown's homely sentiments on such moral matters as the sanctity of family life, the purity of love, and spiritual devotion. Thedeath of his wife in 1874 cast a gloom over his life and the poems in her memory, such as 'Time's Test' and 'Broken Strings', have a poignancy that never allows false sentimentality to intrude. His best poems, though, deal with the countryside of the Borders and episodes from Border history.

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