Author details

Linda Williamson


With a background in classical music from undergraduate study at UW (Madison, Wisconsin), I began research into Scottish folk music and ballads of Scotland’s Travelling People at the School of Scottish Studies in 1973.  Discovery of the Argyll storyteller Duncan Williamson led to marriage in 1977 and the eventual publication of several collections of his Scottish folktales. Canongate, Harmony Books (New York), Cambridge University Press and Penguin were the major houses who carried the oral literature of my husband’s traveller lore.  In the 1980s we created programmes of storytelling and traditional music for schools throughout Scotland, which became the foundation of the Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh.  Since the death of Duncan Williamson (2007), new editions of his collections have been published by Birlinn and Floris Books, Interlink (Maine, U.S.A.) and in Spanish translation by Calumbar Narrativa (Madrid).

About writer's work

My work centers on the Celtic, indigenous and oral literature of Scotland. The theme I have consistently favoured in my selection of stories has been the natural world, especially tales about animals and their close links with humans, shepherds, fishermen and children. The concepts which interest me are conservation and medicine, how stories can positively effect personal growth and development. To explore creatively how the two art forms of writing and storytelling overlap, support and sustain each other has been a passionate, lifelong study. Literary awards in Britain include: Scottish Arts Council Writer’s Bursary (1986), SAC Autumn Book Award (1987) The Society of Authors writer’s bursary (1991); British Academy scholarship for Gaelic research (1993). British Council travel research of European song and story on the Indian subcontinent (1995, 1997). Creative Scotland professional development grants (2008-2016). The Scottish Storytelling Centre continues to be an inspiration and network source for live storytelling engagements with children and adults across Scotland; especially performances in the Scottish International Storytelling Festival.

Websites featuring the author

Florish BooksBirlinnScottish Storytelling CentreScotsmanTRACS

Current events and projects

I am available to do readings, residencies and workshops based on my personal experience living with the Scottish Travelling People as a writer, folklorist and musician.  Recent projects include storytelling the stars – relating tribal folk tales to ancient star myths and cultural astronomy.  Sessions of storytelling with astronomy themes were given in the Royal Observatory Edinburgh (Oct 2016), Dovecot Studios (Oct 2015) and the Scottish Storytelling Centre (July 2016).

Other work

La Bruja del Mar: y otros cuentos de los hojalateros escoceses by Duncan Williamson, edited and introduced by Javier Cardena Contreras (Madrid: Calumbar Narrativa, 2012). Spanish translation of sixteen tales from published collections of stories by Duncan and Linda Williamson; a 45-page study on the oral tradition of the Scottish Travelling People concludes the work. The Horsieman: Memories of a Traveller 1928-58 9781841586922 biographical narrative Birlinn 2008 Scots/English adults. The son, grandson and great-grandson of nomadic tinsmiths, basket weavers, pipers and storytellers – Duncan Williamson – recounts his life with verve, candour and intimacy. From a childhood spent on the shores of Loch Fyne, he goes on to describe working on small hill farms, then walking with barrows and prams and later with horse and cart, the length and breadth of Scotland. The travelling way of life; trades, stories, lore, songs and cures forming the heritage of Travelling People; folk history.

Associated media and resources


Local authority where they are based


Local authorities where they can work

Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles), Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow, Highland, Inverclyde, Midlothian, Moray, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Orkney, Perth and Kinross, Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, Shetland, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire, West Lothian, Other

Age groups

5-8, 9-12, Teens, Adults

LL funded


BRAW network


Author type

Storyteller, Writer


English, Scots

Books written

The Flight of the Golden Bird: Scottish Folk Tales for Children 

Author(s): Linda Williamson
Duncan Williamson, one of Scotland's Travelling People, has been celebrated as the bearer of Scotland's greatest national treasure: the richest trove of story and song in Europe.
Rabbit's Tail

Rabbit's Tail

Author(s): Linda Williamson
Origin tale how rabbit lost his tail because of his bullying and the trick played by Mr. Fox. Forest animals’ meeting; fox’s ingenuity; help from kindly bird; pride and shameful behaviour
Jack and the Devil’s Purse:  Scottish Traveller Tales

Jack and the Devil’s Purse: Scottish Traveller Tales

Author(s): Linda Williamson
Devil stories are always fascinating, entertaining and disturbing.
Fireside Tales of the Traveller Children

Fireside Tales of the Traveller Children

Author(s): Linda Williamson
Edited by Linda Williamson <P> Tribute to the artistry and skill of a master storyteller, featuring a wide range of stories handed down through generations of Travelling People, including anim
Land of the Seal People

Land of the Seal People

Author(s): Linda Williamson
Edited by Linda Williamson <P> No stories are more potent, more engaging, more subtle or profound than these half-animal, half-human tales of the sea.