Webspinner: Songs, Stories, and Reflections of Duncan Williamson, Scottish Traveller


Born in 1928 in a tent on the shore of Loch Fyne, Argyll, Duncan Williamson (d. 2007) eventually came to be recognized as one of the foremost storytellers in Scotland and the world. Webspinner: Songs, Stories, andReflections of Duncan Williamson, Scottish Traveller is based on overa hundred hours of tape-recorded interviews undertaken with him in the 1980s. Williamson tells of his birth and upbringing in the west of Scotland, his family background as one of Scotland’s semi-nomadic travelling people, and the challenges he later faced while raising a family of his own, living on the road for half the year. The recordings on which the book is based were made by John D. Niles, then an associate professor at the University of California, Berkeley. Niles has transcribed selections from hisfield tapes with scrupulous accuracy, arranging them alongside commentary, photos, and other scholarly aids, making this priceless self-portrait of a brilliant storyteller available to the public. The result is a delight to read and a mine of information concerning a vanished way of life and the place of singing and storytelling in Traveller culture.

Publication date: 
September 20, 2022
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