John Home - author of Douglas

John Home

Born Sep 22, 1722 at Leith
Died Sep 05, 1808 at Merchist near Edinburgh


Scottish poet. Son of Alexander Home and Christian Hay. Married (1770) to Mary Home. Graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1742. Licensed by the Presbytery of Edinburgh (1745). Minister of the parish of Athelstaneford, Haddingtonshire (1746-1757). His tragedy Douglas was first produced in Edinburgh in 1756, and in 1757 at Drury Lane, starring Peg Woffington. In 1758 he was appointed Private Secretary to then secretary of state Lord Bute, a position which he kept until 1763 when Lord Bute was ousted as PM. In 1802 was published his History of the Rebellion of 1745. Member of The Poker Club.

Interestingly, the very first performance of Douglas was arranged by West Digges who, on December 4, 1756 had put together an all-star (amateur) cast: Historian William Robertson as Lord Randolph, Philosopher David Hume as Glenalvon, Minister at Inveresk Alexander Carlyle as Old Norval, the author John Home in the title role of Douglas, Scientist and historian Adam Ferguson as Lady Randolph, and the Rev. Hugh Blair as Anna, the maid. It wasn't a public performance - the audience consisted of Lord Elibank, Lord Milton, Lord Kames, Lord Monboddo and the ministers John Steele and William Home.

Life with Boswell: 

Boswell met with Home at Lord Eglinton's on April 10, 1763, describing him as "forward and priggish, but clever". They knew each other beforehand (from the Select Society in Edinburgh?). On April 22, 1763 (also at the Lord's) they discussed war.


It is sometimes possible to find copies of The History of the Rebellion of 1745 and Douglas, A Tragedy via online used bookstores. The description of the first performance of Douglas is taken from Schmitz' 1948 biography of Rev. Hugh Blair.