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From the Alleghenies to the Hebrides
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History, Local History
Publication Date
12 June 2008
Birlinn Limited
16pp b/w plates

From the Alleghenies to the Hebrides

An Autobiography
by Margaret Fay Shaw - Find out more about the author

‘This autobiography is a miniature masterpiece. It is direct, straightforward, often funny, sometimes moving, never sentimental, always serving to evoke what was so valuable about ways of living, which in the last half century, have been set irretrievably aside.’ – Times Literary Supplement

Margaret Fay Shaw’s life spans a century of change. Leaving home and school in Pennsylvania and Philadelphia aged 16, she crossed to Scotland to spend a year at school near Glasgow. It was there that her love for Scotland was born.

After studying music in New York and Paris, she returned to live for six years with two sisters in South Uist. Life on the island had changed little from previous centuries, and material comforts were few. But the island was rich in music and tradition, and Margaret Fay Shaw’s collection of Gaelic lore and song are amongst the most important made this century, whilst her photography evocatively captures the aura of a vanished world.

Her autobiography is the remarkable testament of a remarkable woman as well as a powerful plea in defence of a Gaelic culture and world under threat. It is written with a sharpness of observation, directness of humour and zest for life which make it a marvellous record of the twentieth century.