This website is devoted to the tangled web of intertextuality and social networks that characterizes the literary production of “Ossianic” (or “Fenian”) literature in Gaelic and English. While the English adaptions by James Macpherson are well known, the nature of the influence on him by older Gaelic texts is still commonly misrepresented in popular and academic circles (see this misleading article by the British Museum for one of many examples). There is a long history of the Ossianic genre in Gaelic as well as the influence of Ossian texts on anglophone texts. The figure of Ossian as interlocutor in Gaelic tradition is not unlike the figure of Homer in Greek literature and translations/adaptations of “Homeric” poetry into English. Furthermore, the popularity and prestige of the “Ossianic style” had an influence on high-register writing in Gaelic itself.

This project is particularly focused on the core of these tangled webs, especially Macpherson’s works and those Gaelic texts most influential on him. A number of the relevant literary agents and textual records have been encoded in this project to demonstrate the “Qualified Relationship” features of the Prospect data visualization collaboratory.


Further information can be found on the following webpages:

Future Extensions

I hope to add to the data in the following ways:

  • draw the web of influences on anglophone texts further forward in time;
  • add data about the social relationships between the various literati involved in textual activity.


The data in this website was encoded by Michael Newton; the core data set representing the influence of Gaelic texts on Macpherson’s Ossian is taken from Derick Thomson, The Gaelic sources of Macpherson’s  ”Ossian” (Aberdeen University studies series;no.130) (1952).