by Sheila Stewart - £8.99 Birlinn (2008)
paperback ISBN 13: 9781841587523 | ISBN 10: 1841587524
Sheila Stewart, singer, storyteller and author, is one of the last in the line of Scotlandís travelling people. The way of life of the old travellers Ė tramping the country roads, camping in the woods, hawking, fortune-telling and temporary work on farms Ė has now all but died out. Before the memories melted away like winter snow, Sheila gathered from family and friends this wonderful collection of travellersí tales. Here are the stories that she and her parents used to listen to by the camp fire as the shadows of night clustered around. There are magical tales here, tales of hauntings and sudden deaths, tales of lovers and childbirths, tales of cruel hardship in a land where all too often the travellers were spurned as social outcasts. There are happy stories too, in which the travellers outwit their persecutors and prosper. Many of the stories recount true events that happened to Sheila and her relations. Running through them all is a vein of humour, laughter in the face of adversity.
These arenít polite versions of folk tales that are suitable for the nursery or the Disney studio. They can be rough and tough and earthy, and show with unblinking clarity the rawness of life on the edge. But they have the grotesque and haunting imagery, the depth and power of the real folk tradition. This collection of stories, written down when they were on the point of vanishing into oblivion, has in it the potential to become a classic of its kind.
Sheila Stewart mbe is the last in the line of the Stewarts of Blair. She spent her childhood travelling all over Scotland and working on farms with her family. From 1954 she sang in concerts with her parents and her sister Cathie. An acclaimed storyteller and ballad singer, she also lectures on the oral culture of the travelling people.
(Price & availability last checked: August 2018)
In booklists: Mythology, Folklore, Fairy Tales and Legends, Travellers and Romany People, Writers by Surname - S, Short Story Collections and Novellas, Fiction - Scottish Writers (and novels set in Scotland), Scottish Folklore and Mythology, In categories: Spirituality, Fiction, Poetry & Writing, Anti-Racism, World - Europe, Black, Asian & Other Diasporas, Ireland, Scotland & Wales, History & Biography,