An Event! At Last! Virtually Live on November 8th at 6.00pm

Wilson’s Tales is delighted to invite all of our Patrons, friends, and supporters to a virtual live event.

On Sunday 8th November – 6.00 p.m. in conjunction with the Berwick Literary Festival, and in celebration of the anniversary of the first edition of “Wilsons tales of the Borders”, Berwick’s own 19th century  international best seller, we will be hosting…  

’Intoxicating Tales of The Borders’

Pour a glass of something for the Toast, settle back in the comfortable chair, and direct your browser to:-

Proceedings will start at 6:00 p.m.

Introduction    Andrew Ayre

6-05 A Toast to Wilson  – have your glass charged and to hand!

6-06 “Beans & Bacon” edited recital of the poem on which our literary dinner is based.    Joe & Jacqui Lang.

 6-10 Wilson’s intoxicating tales – a whistle stop tour of tales involving booze.    A. Ayre

6-14 “The Heir of Elphinstone”    Stuart MacHardy

6-22 “The Pentland Smuggler”    Stuart MacHardy

6-30 Wilson’s Tales Revival Edition launch of Volume 7    A Ayre/J Lang/R Wilson.  The WTP Committee pick their favourite and give some comment on it

6-40 100 word tales    Richard Wilson

6-45 Q & A

6-55 Farewell;  The temperate mans song    Joe Lang.


Andrew Ayre is Project Director of The Wilson’s Tale Project

Stuart MacHardy, aka “Bloke in a Bunnet,” is a professional storyteller and author.  Contributor to the Edinburgh Storytelling Centre and others.

Joe Lang and Richard Wilson are Directors of The Project

The Wilson’s Tales Literary Dinner, (normally) held in October of each year, has a fun ‘competition’ inviting guests to contribute a 100 word Tale.  These are some of the best to date. 

Put the date in your Reminders and be sure to attend.  Hear (and see)  Wilsons Tales being performed live by your own fireside!  Imagine yourself back in 1836 listening to the family elder reading the latest Tale from the weekly broadsheet edition as the family gathered to listen.  

All you need to do on Sunday November 8th at 17:58 hours is browse to

Proceedings will start at 6:00 p.m.

The website shop at

Will remain open to sell Volume 7 at a launch special price for 48 hours after the event.
Volume 7 is also available from:-

Berwick Visitor Centre
Walker Gate
Berwick, TD15 1DJ

George C Grieve
1 Church Street
Berwick, TD15 1EG
01835 824 087

Mainstreet Trading,
St Boswells, TD6 0AT
01289 306051

October 20th 2018 – Talk by Mike Fraser

Mike Fraser – author of the newly published book on the life of JMW (See above) will be giving a talk on JMW’s life and work. as part of the Berwick Literary Festival. Mike discusses what Wilson’s writings tell us about Berwick in 1834 and Britain then and now.
October 20th – 4:00 pm  £5.00 – Holy Trinity Parish Centre

full details and tickets are here

JM Wilson Book now available

Now available here

“Health and Home are Powerful Magnets”.
An Exile returns to Berwick.
Mike Fraser BA (Hons) MSc MPhil


John Mackay Wilson – the Writer of Tales of the Borders and Editor of the Berwick Advertiser 1832-1835

Mike Fraser

Mike lives in Berwick upon Tweed and writes and lectures on Northumberland political history, including studies of Sir William Beveridge and Sir Charles Trevelyan. He now turns his attention to a native of Berwick and his writings.
John Mackay Wilson (1804-1835) was the writer of Tales of the Borders and Editor of the Berwick Advertiser 1832-1835. At this turbulent stage in British history Wilson wrote his popular Tales, transformed the Advertiser and wrote controversial editorials on Grey, Peel, Wellington, the Great Reform Act, religion, trade unions, the Poor Law and the role of Freemen. Quoting extensively from Wilson’s prose and poetry Mike, in the first extended examination of Wilson’s life and work, discusses what his writings tell us about Berwick and Britain at the dawn of the modern age.

Praise for Mike’s Sir William Beveridge: the Man, the Report and the Berwick Division –
“I think it is terrific” – Steve Richards, Political Commentator

“This study should be in the House of Commons Library” – Sir Alan Beith (former MP for Berwick and now Lord Beith)

“I very much enjoyed your piece which taught me a lot about Lord Beveridge’s Northumberland career and later life” – Professor Jose Harris (Beveridge’s only Biographer)

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

Illustrations for Volume 4