The King and the Lamp: Scottish Traveller Tales by Duncan Williamson, Linda Williamson
As Scotland—and arguably Britain's—finest storyteller, Duncan Williamson has captivated generations of readers both young and old. This collection of his most popular stories, superbly edited and introduced by Linda Williamson, recognizes the value and importance of the rich oral tradition from which his work stems. Collected for the first time are twenty-six tales, including "Jack and the Devil's Nurse"; "The Hunchback and the Swan"; "Mary and the Seal"; "The Broonie's Farewell"; "I Love You More than Salt"; "The Giant with the Air of Knowledge" and "The Bay and the Boats".
Duncan James Williamson was born in Furnace, Argyllshire; the son, grandson and great-grandson of nomadic tinsmiths. He was one of the last true traveller Scotsmen, and the best known of Scotland's storytellers. The seventh of 16 children, he was widely reported to have born 'under a tree', as he told it, by Loch Fyne in Argyll. After leaving school at 14, he became apprentice to a stonemason and dry-stone dyker, Neil MacCallum, in Argyll. MacCallum told stories in English with Scots Gaelic punctuations. Williamson's stories would cover similar linguistic terrain, but with traveller "cover-tongue", or cant, interspersed for good measure. He took to the road, obtaining agricultural work here, learning horse-dealing there, picking up songs and stories as he went, and overlaying the versions he knew with new ones to make them wholly his own. Williamson's autobiography, The Horsieman: Memories of a Traveller, 1928-1958 (1994), tells tales of horse-whispering from another age.