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Fireside Tales of the Traveller Children
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Folklore & Mythology, Short Stories
Publication Date
26 March 2009
Available for Sale
Birlinn Limited

Fireside Tales of the Traveller Children

by Duncan Williamson - Find out more about the author

'A treasure trove of oral storytelling,' – The Herald

'You can feel the words, the gestures, and the voice drawing you in, building the tale and enclosing you in its magic and apparently effortless art - and guile!’ – Duncan Smith, The Scottish Storytelling Centre


Duncan Williamson was a Scottish traveller who went on to become one of Britain’s master story-tellers. During his lifetime he was acclaimed as ‘the greatest English-speaking storyteller’, ‘the national monument of British storytelling’ and, at his death, Scotland’s ‘greatest contemporary storyteller’. Fireside Tales, his first book, reveals this artistry and mastery in all its glory. This new edition is edited by his wife, Linda Williamson.

Fireside Tales is narrated with an intense commitment to generations of the travelling people, who used animal fables, wonder tales and splendid horror stories to instil in their children moral judgment and a knowledge of right and wrong. At every corner the technical skill of the narrator is revealed, his ingenious mixture of conversation and action, frequent change of pace, use of the first person – all attributes of the born storyteller which compel attention, where tension and excitement are at fever pitch throughout. With a universality that can relate to every reader, this book represents one of the great collections of traveller stories.

With over ten books to his name, Duncan Williamson was one of the last, best-known of Scotland’s traveller storytellers. The son, grandson and great grandson of nomadic tinsmiths, basket makers, pipers and storytellers, he became  known as one of the world’s finest oral story-tellers, with over 3,000 stories committed to memory. His autobiography, The Horsieman, also published Birlinn, tells his life story as a traveller, hawking his wares, collecting stories, and travelling through Scotland. He died in November 2007.

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