Margaret Bennett was brought up in a family of tradition bearers — Gaelic (from the Isle of Skye) on her mother’s side and Lowland Scots on her father’s. Folklorist, ethnologist and prize-winning author, she is also well known as a singer and broadcaster.
Former lecturer at the School of Scottish Studies in Edinburgh, where the late Hamish Henderson said, “Margaret embodies the spirit of Scotland”, she is widely regarded as Scotland’s foremost folklorist.
She has published nine books, contributed to over thirty others, and written many articles and reviews. She has recorded several CDs, teaches part-time at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (Glasgow) and lectures and sings on both sides of the Atlantic.
Interested in the many facets of traditional Scottish folk culture, most of her publications have a strong basis in live interviews of tradition bearers. Her best known work includes: Scottish Customs; Emigration to the New World; Traditional medicine and plantlore; Childlore; Wartime memories and songs.
- Joint first prize winner of the Michaelis-Jena Ratcliff Folklore Prize, Centennial celebration of the International Folklore Congress in London, in June l991 for “a major contribution to the study of folklore in England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales.” (for the book The Last Stronghold: Scottish Gaelic Traditions of Newfoundland)
- Second runner-up to the Katherine Briggs Prize for Folklore, 1993 (for Scottish Customs from the Cradle to the Grave).
- The Scotch Malt Whisky Society award in January 1994 “for notable service...rendered to the people of Scotland”.
- First prize-winner of the College of Cape Breton Prof. Donald Fergusson Essay Prize ‘for a topic relating to the study of Gaelic traditions’ (for the article, “Gaelic Song in Eastern Canada: Twentieth Century Reflections”) 1995.
- Master Music Maker Award ‘in celebration of a lifetime of musicianship and teaching, North Carolina, USA, 1998.
- The Clio Award for Quebec, Canadian Historical Association/Société historique du Canada, 1999, for the book Oatmeal and the Catechism: Scottish Gaelic Settlers in Quebec
- Katherine Briggs Prize for Folklore, runner-up 1999, for Oatmeal and the Catechism
- Celtic Women International, Toronto, 2003, “Exceptional Celtic Woman” Award, for “Lifelong service to Scottish and Celtic Culture”
- Patron and Honorary Life Membership of the Traditional Music and Song Association of Scotland (TMSA), 2007.
- Honorary Doctor of the Royal Academy of Music and Drama, 2010
- Honorary Life Fellow of the Association of Scottish Literary Studies, in recognition of contribution to Scottish literature, 2010
- The Government of Quebec London Office award, le ‘Prix du Québec’ for contribution to Quebec cultural studies, 2011.