Wilson’s Ornithology and Burds in Scots highlights the works of a notable Scottish writer and illustrator, Alexander Wilson. Wilson explored the world of birds through the rich and vibrant medium of the Scots language. Because of his vast travels across North America in the eighteenth century, Wilson pioneered the science of ornithological writing and illustration. He was also a radically-minded weaver and minor poet. Because of this, he was something of a rebel in his own country. Before he emigrated to United States, Wilson wrote and published a number of poems in Scots. This new book celebrates the artwork of Alexander Wilson by reproducing his illustrations alongside new poems in Scots by Hamish MacDonald. The new poems look at the habits, habitats, and characteristics of birds.
Margaret Chrystall said about Wilson’s Ornythology and Burds in Scots: “As well as Scots words adding colour and satisfyingly descriptive sounds to Hamish’s word portraits of his chosen birds, the entertaining and informative book is a great advert for Scots and its power for a younger generation.” You can read the full review on the What’s On North page.
About the Author
ALEXANDER WILSON was a Radical Paisley weaver turned packman. When he travelled thousands of miles by foot across the American continent, he illustrated and wrote about its bird life. As such, Wilson is the founding father of ‘American Ornithology’, and his illustrations and writing comprise an outstanding body of work. This includes American Ornithology, which was published in nine volumes between 1808 and 1814.
HAMISH MACDONALD was the first skriver at the Scottish National Library in Edinburgh. His poems reflect his own lifelong love of birds. Scots is the medium he chose to use throughout. Alexander Wilson was not only a self-taught ornithologist, but also a minor Scots poet and an orator who delivered his speeches in Scots verse. This makes Scots an apposite medium with which to explore these beautiful drawings.