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Out of Atholl
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Publication Date
28 August 2008
Available for Sale
Birlinn Limited
16pp b/w

Out of Atholl

Voices from the Shadows of Schiehallion
by James Irvine Robertson - Find out more about the author

This story emerged through the chance survival of an archive of documents covering a dozen generations of a family that lived in Atholl in Highland Perthshire. One was killed fighting Cromwell’s soldiers. Another was clapped in the Tower of London after the 1715 Rising. Another died at Culloden. Others fought against Napoleon, ran slave plantations in the West Indies, ran off with unsuitable lovers, sired innumerable children of many hues, and struggled for financial stability as the winds of economic and social change blew through their ancient feudal society. Over the 150 years up to 1850 it shows, very often in their own words, their triumphs and their inevitable tragedies. Out of Atholl is a family saga in the real sense with women often taking leading roles. They had to cope with rampaging redcoats when their husbands were killed or captured after the Jacobite Risings, or rear families when their menfolk were away trying to make money or carve worldly reputations. Women provide the strong narrative thread of continuity, carrying the story of their own families and the estates they inherited into their marriages or elopements, through near bankruptcy, until the family managed to set camp on the sunny uplands of Victorian respectability.

This is the story of real people and real lives, from all social strata, most of whom were kin to one another many times over. Their story carries through the tornado of the ’45 Rising and its aftermath and shows how this clannish society managed to emerge intact.

After working in advertising, James Irvine Robertson became a pig and dairy farmer in South West England and contributed to agricultural journals and wrote a series of comic novels. He returned to Scotland in 1991. He has published 20 books over 25 years and has been a broadcaster, lecturer, humorous columnist and contributor to a wide variety of newspapers and magazines in the UK, US and Australia. He has edited the Clan Donnachaidh Annual for 14 years and edited the magazine of the Stewart Society. He lives in Stirling.