The Wilson’s Tales Project has been created by a group of volunteers based in Berwick upon Tweed, to stimulate a revival of interest in the Tales. Constantly republished throughout the English-speaking world in the 19th century, when the 1934 centenary edition was reprinted in 1947 , the Tales as a published body of work were slipping into obscurity.
The Wilson’s Tales Project aims to raise awareness of the original Tales and provide a platform for contemporary artists of all types to respond to and re-tell them in modern ways to modern audiences.
This has included live performances by story tellers, musicians singing the original ballads on which many were based, and stage and radio play adaptations of the Tales in historic venues.
In addition, we have published our own ‘Revival Editions’ of Tales, each one retold in modern language and with an accompanying item setting out the historical accuracy, or otherwise, of the original.
Can I get involved?
Of course you can. We are in need of writers, editors, bloggers, volunteers of all kinds. You can Sign up for the Newsletter here,
or make a donation here.
Why should his work still be of interest?
The main reasons for re-examining the body of Tales are twofold:-
their historical and cultural significance, and
they’re (mostly) ripping good yarns!
At the time of publication, their weekly appearance was the equivalent of today’s soap operas. Their print runs expanded and expanded as people ‘tuned in’ to the latest goings on in the Borders, and Scotland. Although they were presented in a dramatic way to suit expectations of the readers, most were founded on actual events and stories. We commission companion pieces to each of our Revival reprints to investigate just how factual the particular Tale is/was.
Who was Wilson?
At the time of the first ‘Tales of the Borders’ John Mackay Wilson (JMW) was Editor of the Berwick Advertiser. A new work (October 2018) detailing his life and activity has been published under the auspices of The Project, and is available in ebook or print format in the project shop here, or on line at various ebook retailers.
A brief summary is also at this page.
Where can I read some Tales?
The first place would be from our shop, where we now have the first 6 Revival Edition reprints, where Tales are retold, and companion pieces explain their historical accuracy (or not).
The Berwick Advertiser has been reprinting serialisations of tales, which is an elegant closure of a full circle, from the original Tale in the paper o November 8th 1834.
After that, you can download original Tales from places like Project Gutenberg or other sites, listed on our page here