About the Tales
On the 8th October 1834 the Berwick Advertiser contained two stories “The Vacant Chair”, concerning Peter Elliot, a farmer whose farmhouse straddled the Border, and “Tibby Fowler” a tale of wealth , despair and love winning through to save the day. They started the flow of “Wilson’s Tales of the Borders, and of Scotland. Historical, Traditionary and Imaginative” that eventually ran to nearly 500 tales, provided by over 20 contributors.
Wilson had contributed 66 tales to the collection before his death in 1835. His Executors and Family continued the process of publication after his death to ensure his widow was not left penniless. The largest single contributor was Alexander Leighton, who subsequently edited a 20 part, 10 volume set of the collected Tales in1857, and later an expanded 24 volume edition, which included tales from further afield around Scotland, published in 1869.
The tales thus contain a rich collection of tales that represent a record of our History, Heritage, lore and legend. They caught the imagination of the their age and are rich in social history covering some 500 years and can once more entertain a new generation.
Where can I read more Tales?
– The best place is, of course, our Project shop, where we are steadily adding to our reprinted versions of the originals. Each of the Tales is retold, in a more modern idiom, and each has been researched to discover how factual a tale it is. Recall that JMW’s original notion was to set down oral and popular tales that circulated in the Borders, most of which were based on real events. In our Revival Editions we provide an accompanying article setting the background to each Tale, with as much information as our researchers can locate regarding the origin and veracity of the Tale.