The Outlander Series of books is not the only time Jacobite history has appeared in works of fiction. In fact, the Jacobites and their complex history have intrigued writers for centuries.
Firstly, we step back to 1814 and Sir Walter Scott with this historical novel ‘Waverley’. This was Scott’s first venture into prose fiction and was originally published anonymously, although it is said almost every reviewer guessed it was his work and many readers recognised his hand. The novel is set during the ’45 rising and follows the story of one Edward Waverley, a young English soldier, as he is sent to Scotland and into the heart of the rebellion. When it was first published it was an astonishing success with the first edition of 1,000 copies selling out within two days. Critics widely praised Scott’s work and it became so popular that his later novels were advertised as being by the author of ‘Waverley’.
From Scott to Stevenson. Written as a ‘boys novel’ Robert Louis Stevensons story ‘Kidnapped’ was first published in the magazine ‘Young Folks’ in 1886 before becoming a novel. The story follows the adventures of David Balfour following the ’45 Rising and includes the ‘Appin Murder’ of 1752 in Ballachulish. Though many of the characters were real people the novel is not historically accurate. The book sold well whilst Stevenson was alive and he followed it up with a sequel ‘Catriona’ but the themes were more romantic than adventurous and it did not reach the same level of fame as ‘Kidnapped’.
Also on the list of Jacobite fiction authors is John Buchan, perhaps best known for the book ‘The Thirty-Nine Steps’. In 1923 he published ‘Midwinter’ which is set during the ’45 and tells the tale of Alastair Maclean, confidant of Prince Charles Edward Stuart, who embarks on a secret mission to raise support for the Jacobite cause in the West of England.
Historical fiction was not just tackled by men. In 1925 the first book of ‘The Jacobite Trilogy ‘ was produced by Dorothy Kathleen Broster, better known as D.K. Broster. Featuring the dashing hero Ewen Cameron the trilogy consists of ‘The Flight of the Heron’, ‘The Gleam in the North’ and ‘The Dark Mile’. The books follow Ewen a small landowner and close relative of the chief of the Clan Cameron across the ’45 Rising and the aftermath of the Jacobite defeat at Culloden.
The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon has been the latest big success showing the interest in historical fiction remains and the Jacobite period has plenty to offer in the way of adventure and, in Outlander’s case, romance. Following the main characters of Jamie and Claire through Jacobite history and beyond, the books have now been made into a TV series filmed in Scotland showcasing the dramatic scenery of the country and encouraging many people to see Scotland for themselves.
Recently we have also seen ‘Gathering Storm’ by Maggie Craig published in 2013. The book is set in Edinburgh in 1743 where Jacobite support is growing, causing new tensions in the city. The story could be classed as an historical romance but is full of plenty of crime, politics and intrigue to keep everyone happy. Craig is probably best known for her books ‘Bare Arsed Bandetti’ and ‘Damn Rebel Bitches’ which look at the stories of the men and women of the ’45 Rising and should definitely be checked out.
We hope you enjoyed this dabble into Jacobite fiction and, of course, all these books are on sale in our shop at Culloden Battlefield Visitor Centre. Also, this month we have a series of talks looking into the world of the Jacobites in fiction including talks from Maggie Craig and Diana Gabaldon. For details on these check out our Events page. http://www.nts.org.uk/Culloden/Visit/Events/
As always please like, share, tweet, comment and let us know your favourite historical fiction books.
All the best, K & D