Bontine Cunninghame Graham (Born - London, 24 May 1852 – Died - Buenos
Aires,20 March 1936) was a Scottish politician, writer, journalist and
adventurer. He was a Liberal Party Member of Parliament (MP); the
first-ever socialist member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom; a
founder of the Scottish Labour Party (1888-1893); a founder of the
National Party of Scotland; and the first president of the Scottish
National Party in 1934.
He was the son of Major William Bontine of the Renfrew Militia and
formerly a Cornet in the Scots Greys with whom he served in Ireland. His
mother was Hon. Anne Elizabeth Elphinstone-Fleeming, daughter of Admiral
Charles Elphinstone-Fleeming of Cumbernauld and a Spanish noblewoman
Doña Catalina Paulina Alessandro de Jiménez. The first language
Cunninghame Graham learnt was his mother's maternal tongue, Spanish. He
spent most of his childhood on the family estate of Finlaystone in
Renfrewshire and Ardoch in Dunbartonshire, Scotland. After being
educated at Harrow School in England, Robert finished his education in
Brussels before moving to Argentina to make his fortune cattle ranching.
He became known as a great adventurer and gaucho there, and was
affectionately known as Don Roberto. He also travelled in Morocco
disguised as a Turkish sheik, prospected for gold in Spain, befriended
Buffalo Bill in Texas, and taught fencing in Mexico City, having
travelled there by wagon train from San Antonio de Bexar with his young
bride, Gabriella Chidiock de la Balmondiere.
During his life Graham had a large number of books and articles
published. Subject matter included history, biography, poetry, essays,
politics, travel and seventeen collections of short stories. Titles
include, Father Archangel of Scotland (1896 in conjunction with his wife
Gabriella), Thirteen Stories (1900), Scottish Stories (1914) "Brought
Forward" (1916) and Doughty Deeds (1925) a biography of his
great-great-grandfather, Robert Graham of Gartmore. His great-niece and
biographer, Jean, Lady Polwarth, published a collection of his short
stories (or sketches) entitled Beattock for Moffatt and the Best of
Cunninghame Graham (1979) and Alexander Maitland added his selection
under the title Tales of Horsemen (1981). Professor John Walker
published collections of Cunninghame Graham's South American Sketches
(1978), Scottish Sketches (1982) and North American Sketches (1986) and
in 1988 The Century Travellers reprinted his Mogreb-el-Acksa (1898) and
A Vanished Arcadia (1901), the latter being, in part, the inspiration
for the award-winning film The Mission. More recently The Long Riders
Guild Press have reprinted his equestrian travel works in their
Cunninghame Graham Collection and Kessinger Publishing have reprinted 16
titles to date. He helped Joseph Conrad, whom he had introduced to his
publisher Edward Garnett at Duckworth with research for Nostromo. Other
literary friends included, Ford Madox Ford, John Galsworthy, W. H.
Hudson, George Bernard Shaw (who openly admits his debt to Graham for
"Captain Brassbound's Conversion" as well as a key line in "Arms and the
Man") and G. K. Chesterton, who proclaimed him "The Prince of Preface
Writers" and famously declared in his autobiography that Cunninghame
Graham had "achieved the adventure of being Cunninghame Graham".
Here is a wee flavour of
his writings which are in pdf format...
Our thanks to John Henderson for sending
this into us.
of Cunninghame Graham (pdf)
sketches by him ['Pollybaglan' and 'A Traveller'] about the Carse of
Stirling extracted from the 1904 book 'PROGRESS AND OTHER SKETCHES'