Published in a pirated edition in the United States, A Galloway Herd was turned down by T.Fisher Unwin in 1894. It was originally serialised in The Christian Leader Magazine in 1891-2 and as such marks Crockett’s first serial fiction. Some of the chapters were later integrated into Bog Myrtle and Peat (1895). It was never revised for novelisation and thus the loose episodic style is somewhat .uneven. However, it is well worth the read. 'A Galloway Herd' also introduces us to the fictional setting of Drumquhat, which is to become familiar in many of Crockett’s later novels. The pastoral setting is realistic but elevated through the eyes of Wattie to become an adventure which ranges even into revolutionary France at the time of the Paris Commune. This gives us the first taste of one of Crockett’s strongest literary skills, placing the ‘ordinary’ characters in the foreground while ‘history’ runs along in the background. ‘A Galloway Herd’ shows us the romantic power of the book as clearly as it shows us the domestic power of women and the stigma of illegitimacy. The minister in the story wants Wattie to become a ‘shepherd’ for Jesus, but Wattie, and Crockett were destined to be Galloway Herds of quite a different kind. The later novel Kit Kennedy (1899) covers much of the same ground but with more mature writerly skill, however this is a very interesting story in its own right. The central character is Wattie Anderson and his story is told initially from the first person dialect voice of Saunders McQuhirr, later to become one of Crockett’s strongest and best loved characters, and a fairly loosely disguised version of his own grandfather. The story shifts into the third person as it develops into Wattie’s romantic view of his life – because for all the third person narrative, we feel like this is a boy, telling us his own story. The adventures and events that happen to Wattie could all be explained away from an adult perspective, but from the child’s view they are heightened, romanticised and offer an insight into both the world of a boy with a vivid imagination, and the melodramatic style itself.
VOLUME 16 OF THE GALLOWAY COLLECTION. BUY THE BOOK ONLINE HERE
THE COMPLETE CROCKETT
1886 Dulce Cor