Volume 4 of our Revival Edition now available !

We are pleased to announce that Volume 4 of our Revival Edition of the tales is now available. 6 more original tales re-written and in one case re-imagined for a modern audience, together with companion pieces on their historic context and authenticity or otherwise.

We are also delighted to include three new tales from young writers. The winning entries from last year’s Rotary/Berwick literary festival schools writing competition.  

The Fourth chapter of Wilson’s own Biography is included too, seeing him return to Berwick to take up his position at The Berwick Advertiser. 

We also include original illustrations and new ones contributed by Berwick artists and a special series of illustrations from Scottish Comic illustrator , Charles Nasmyth, together with photographs of some of the places and people associated with the tales. 

19 people have contributed to the publication of this issue which like the original’s gives it an interesting character and a community of interest in the project and Wilson’s works . 

Books are  being distributed through our usual outlets and are now with Greives in Berwick and available from Greaves West & Ayre office.

For those wanting a copy posted to them directly, please send a cheque for £10 (8.50 +1.50 p&p) payable to “The Wilson’s tales project” , with an address label to: The Wilson’s Tales Project,  Mill Farm, Tweedmouth, Berwick-upon-Tweed TD15 2HP.


Judith cropped vignette

The Wilson’s Tales Project presents:

More stories from Berwick’s own 19th century literary sensation re-presented for the 21st century

WATCH! The Disasters of Johnny Armstrong

Drama and comedy from Northumberland Theatre Company


HEAR! The Legend of Fair Helen of Kirconnel

Singer Poppy Holden  brings the ballad to life


PREVIEW! Wilson’s Tales Revival Edition Volume 4

SEE! The Art of the Tales

An exhibition of illustrations commissioned for the Revival Editions
and Charles Nasmyth’s graphic novel
The Comic Legend of William McGonagall, the World’s Worst Poet

Exhibition continues on October 20-22 and 24

 Thursday 19 October 2017 at 7.30pm
The Watchtower Gallery Tweedmouth

Wilson’s Tales funding success!

The Wilson’s Tales Project has been awarded funding from Arts Council England Literature and Grants for the Arts, and the Northumberland Coast Sustainable Development Fund for ‘Tales with a Twist‘, incorporating the publication of Volume 4 of Wilson’s Tales of The Borders which will include 6 new interpretations of the tales and 3 new stories by young writers, with original illustrations (See attached)

The funding will also support a performance of ‘The Disasters of Johnny Armstrong’ by Northumberland Theatre Company and ballad singer Poppy Holden singing ‘Fair Helen of Kirkconnel’ at the Watchtower, Berwick-upon Tweed on 19th October.

To place an advance order for Volume 4 or for further information contact ana@gwayre.co.uk

Illustrations for Volume 4

Berwick Stories to grace the shelves of the Bodleian!

The Wilson’s Tales Project has been invited to provide copies of Wilson’s Tales Volume 3 to major national libraries: The Bodleian Library, Oxford; National Library of Wales; National Library of Scotland; Trinity College Dublin in addition to The British Library. This is wonderful recognition for the Tales which are re-presented in these volumes to be enjoyed by current and future generations. The Volume also includes new stories selected from a competition for local school children. Volume 4 will be published and launched in October at The Berwick Literary Festival. To secure your copy of Volume 3 or place an advance order for Volume 4 contact ana@gwayre.co.uk

An event to support the publication is planned for 19th October 2017 with a performance by professional theatre company NTC and a Young People’s Theatre Group. Watch this space for more information!


 WT VOl 3

Volunteers Needed!

We are looking for  volunteers!

Aspiring writers and researchers:

Firstly we are starting to put together Volume 4 of our Revival Editions. We could do with a couple more people willing to have a go at rewriting the selected tales in more concise and readable format and separately  to do some research about the tale and its historic context and authenticity. So if anyone would like to step forward, we would be delighted to hear from you! 

Listed Historic/Building Experience:

We also have a grant offer of £5,000 from the Berwick Preservation Trust , but its proving immensely difficult and time consuming to liaise with the various bodies that have a say on this and want endless information and reports. If anyone who has experience with building and historic building issues (it is a listed building)  would like to see if they can make something actually happen,  we would be delighted to hear from you otherwise we suspect this opportunity is going to slip away.

 We are making plans for two further live events to retell tales again this year and will announce further details in due course.


I am pleased to announce our autumn revival events being staged as part of the Berwick literary festival from 20th October to 23rd October. Full details and tickets now available from the Maltings, using the following links.

On Thursday we premier Robert Wilkinson’s take on “the poor scholar” , will be hearing Wilson poem about the Tweed and inviting guests to come down to the official opening of our “pop up “ museum.


On Saturday, we see the revival of the immensely amusing play “Willie Wastle’s account of his wife”. It has a lot of humour , human conflict and an insight to its times and resistance to change. The Tale itself is based on an earlier Burns poem and is one of my favourite tales. The original cast are resembling for this production and I am sure it will not disappoint.


We will also run our pop up museum for the duration of the festival at 10a Bridge street car park. This will include showings of the various tales we have so far captured on film. Do call and see this if you can and give us some feedback.

We are also looking for some volunteers to help man it for brief shifts!

For those of you wanting to make a full weekend of entertainment in Berwick, more details of the literary festival can be found at:


Wilson’s Women; Heroines & Harlots

Our next, 6th revival event is now organised for Sunday 27th March and tickets available from the Maltings , link below:

Poster Wilson’s Women Heroines & Harlots



A new venue for us at the Watchtower Gallery in Tweedmouth.


Our theme this spring is “Wilson’s Women” , portraying some of the brave , bright and Belligerent women featured in The Tales. Wilson was very much a writer who recognised the central role women played in so many aspects of society and family life and their role in history.


Mary Kenny who has worked with us on several occasions will tell the tale of Kate Kennedy. Alice Dobie and colleagues form Northumbria University drama department have been challenged to present The Guidewife of Coldingham and David Martin, a winner of our young film makers award, will present a shortened version of the Belford Players tale of Grizzell Cochrane: A Tale of Tweedmouth Muir on film. The latter two of them based on true local events and history , the latter tale of Grizzell Cochrane, like the Errington Tale , almost too far-fetched to be true, but largely true it is.


So I hope you can get the date in your diary and we look forward to seeing you.


In the meantime we work on our 3rd revival edition for publication in the autumn. We have invited 6 local artists to help illustrate this with new illustrations to accompany some of the old ones. We are also delighted to have secured a contribution from Charles Nasmyth (who published the much praised illustrated “The comic legend of William McGonagall”), and he has offered to take on a whole tale for us in 2017.


We have had mixed success with funding applications of recent but are building resource and working towards our plans for a “pop up “ museum about Wilson and the Tales in the Autumn. The Portas fund has given us some welcome support , but the Lottery turned us down and we have had success in finding some sponsors for our films. Fergyspace the storage company at Cramlington recently agreeing to be sponsors of The Errington Film.

Wilson’s Memorial

Berwick Preservation trust have offered £5,000 to kick start an effort to get Wilson’s memorial in Tweedmouth restored.


We are now starting discussions with The Church, and no doubt others that may have a view on how this is to be done.


If anyone with project management experience in the building trade is available to help manage this project, offers of help would be gratefully received!


Winter Talks

Forth coming talks this winter include:


3rd December at 7-30 to Coldstream History Society , at the Eildon Centre

11th January 2016 at 7-30 to Norham History society , at the Village hall.

18th February 2016 10-30 to Eyemouth Probus.


This will cover the background of Wilsons life, the publishing of and history of the tales and focus in the correspondence between Wilson and Everrett , held by the National Library of Scotland which gives us an insight into Wilson’s personality.

Fab Funky

Wilsons Tales PrintsWilsons Tales Fab FunkyWilsons Tales Fantosh

We have come across various ways in which people are reusing the tales. Including Kelly Stevens of FabFunky, pictured here at a market in London. She uses the pages of old editions as the backdrop to some funky animal prints.

I see these are now for sale locally at the recently opened Tea Boutique and gift shop “Fantosh” , which has just opened in Marygate in Berwick. She sells these all around the world.