A renowned classical scholar, John Blackie was well known for his wit and kindly nature, as well as his flamboyance and characteristic dress. At the age of thirty he became the first Professor of Humanity at the University of Aberdeen before moving to Edinburgh in 1852 to become Professor of Greek. His knowledge of the classics did not preclude his becoming a Gaelic enthusiast, and he was largely responsible for founding the Celtic Chair at Edinburgh. As an author he wrote prolifically on political, religious, Greek and Scottish topics, and produced verse translations of Faust and Homer. He travelled extensively and visited Greece aged 82. He enjoyed a long and happy, if childless, marriage with Eliza Wyld.