Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Historians of oral interpretation and speech education acknowledge Marjorie Gullan as a pioneer figure. However, they limit their discussion to Gullan's activities as a pioneer in popularizing choral speaking and neglect her other professional involvements as a speech teacher, lecturer, and public reader. This study traces Gullan's career from the earliest years in Scotland to her death, and illustrates the interdependence between her experiences as a speech teacher and her experiments with choral speaking as an educational and artistic technique. Born in the late nineteenth century, Gullan witnessed the waning days of elocution, and throughout her lengthy career, which extended into the 1950's, she encouraged the revival of verse-speaking and the inclusion of speech courses as part of the standard curriculum in the public schools and teacher training institutions. As the author of eight textbooks and anthologies; a pioneer and practitioner of choral speaking with the Glasgow Nightingales and the London Verse Speaking Choir; the sponsor of a professional speech journal entitled Good Speech and later called Speech News; the president of the Speech Fellowship, an association formed to promote speech training in the schools; a popular lecturer and public reader; and a successful teacher in the public schools, teacher training colleges, and in her own private studio and schools in Scotland and England, Gullan's diverse activities contributed to her lifelong goal, the promotion of speech training in the schools and the advancement of the spoken word. Primary sources for this study include interviews with members of Gullan's verse-speaking choirs; materials from Gullan's personal papers housed in the local history collection of the Mitchell Library, Glasgow, Scotland; professional correspondence, programs, and newspaper clippings from the archives at the University of London and the London Regent Street Polytechnic; and letters from and interviews with a number of Gullan's former students and friends.