The story of William Wallace, the heroic 14th-century leader of the struggle for Scotland's freedom, has come down to us from many sources, one of the earliest being The Wallas, a poem by the 15th-century writer Blin Hary, or Blind Harry. According to poet Tom Scott, who made The Wallas into the English prose version found in this book, 'The merit of Blin Hary's work, is uniqueness, with passages of excellent poetry here and there, its general standard of versification and the noble tone of most of it, makes it a foundation work of Scottish poetry, and one of the sources of Wallace traditions, however imperfect.
Being, as it is, a creative work of literature, Blin Harry's The Wallas cannot be taken as a reliable historical source in every detail. However, as Tom Scott went on to say, 'With Barbour's Brus, it is the epic foundation of Scottish literature and therefore required reading for every born Scot.'
Tales of Sir William Wallace opens up Blin Hary's vivid and dramatic work -- originally written in medieval Scots -- to the reader of today.
Tom Scott was born in Glasgow in 1918. His father was a boiler-maker, and Red Clydeside was an enduring influence. His early years were spent working as a stonemason in St Andrews -- the town and its 'characters' later appeared in his poem sequence Brand the Builder. After the Second World War, he lived in London, taking part in its literary life. His first use of Scots as a poetic language, encouraged by T.S. Eliot, was in translations of Villon. Scott returned to Scotland in 1952 and studied at Newbattle Abbey and later at Edinburgh University. His doctoral thesis on Dunbar became the basis of a published critical study, still among the standard works in the field. A socialist and a nationalist, Tom Scott wrote a number of long and complex poems in Scots. He also edited The Oxford Book of Scottish Verse, with John MacQueen; and The Penguin Book of Scottish Verse. A selection of his work, The Collected Shorter Poems, was published by Agenda/Chapman, Edinburgh, in 1993. Scott died in 1995.