1. Enter Greyfriars Kirkyard.
  2. Skirt to the right of the yellow church.
  3. Continue the loop round the chuch towards the Flodden wall arch.
  4. After passing through the arch continue straigh ahead.
  5. At the gates of George Heriots school pivot left
  6. Look for the plaque on the wall with the fantastic hair. Here rests the worst poet in British history.

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The gates of Greyfriars Kirkyard Edinburgh from George IV bridge
Greyfriars Kirkyard off Candlemaker Row
Inside Greyfriars Kirkyward Edinburgh facing Yellow Greyfriars Kirk
Skirt to the right of the yellow church
This way
Stick to the loop passing the Kirk's main entrance
Continue the loop back round the chuch towards the Flodden wall arch
Looking toward an arch in the Flodden Wall
After passing through the arch continue on
Turning right away from George Heriots School
Procced to the gates of George 'Hogwarts' Heriots school
Turning right away from George Heriots School
Pivot left
Following the Flodden Wall down towards Tom Riddle's grave
Tada! Britain's worst poet. So bad he's good.

Who is William Mcgonagall?

William Mcgonagall was born and died in Greyfriars parish Edinburgh. But he moved to Dundee finding work as a weaver. One day a strange feeling stole over him, and "a flame seemed to kindle up my entire frame with a strong desire to write poetry". A legend began.

Mcgonagall decided he needed a patron so wrote to Queen Victoria, a court functionary wrote back thanking him for his interest. Thanked by the Queen!

In 1879 during a visit to Dunfermline the Chief Templar mocked him and told him his poetry was very bad.
Robust McGonagall retorted that "it was so very bad that Her Majesty had thanked McGonagall for what the Chief Templar had condemned."

McGonagall decided that he needed to enhance his reputation further, and a live performance before her majesty would do it. In 1878 he walked the 97km from Dundee to Balmoral, over the Cairngorm mountains and through a violent thunderstorm to perform for Queen Victoria.

Mcgonagall presents to the Queen

When he arrived he announced "I am the Queen's Poet!"
The guards informed him "You're not the Queen's poet! Tennyson is the Queen's poet."
Mcgonagall presented his letter, but was refused entry and returned home.

He struggled for money and ended up working in a local circus reading his poems while the crowd chucked eggs, flour, herrings and stale bread. It got out of control and Dundee magistrates put a ban on the performances.

William becomes immortal

Almost bankrupt he was finally published in a series of books entitled 'poetic gems'...

Beautiful Railway Bridge of the Silv'ry Tay!
Alas! I am very sorry to say
That ninety lives have been taken away
On the last Sabbath day of 1879,
Which will be remember'd for a very long time.

The people of Dundee recognised him as
"So giftedly bad, he backed unwittingly into genius"

While JK Rowling said it was irrisistable that the great and brilliant Minerva, headmistress of Hogwarts, would somehow be distantly related to our brilliant buffon William.

Professor Minerva McGonagall in glasses and black hat holds her hands pensively Art Credits
Minerva Mcgonagall by Zsigmond Istvan