In Scotland, literature begins on the principle that hungry dogs hunt the best.
Crockett’s output is extensive. He has nearly seventy published volumes of history, adventure and romance and countless short stories. Around a third of his writing is set in his native Galloway, with another third set in Europe, where he travelled extensively over many decades. The final third are set more generally in Britain in a variety of fictionalised locations. His influences included Scott, Stevenson, Galt and Hogg. He was contemporary with J.M.Barrie and Arthur Conan Doyle. His style, however, was all his own. He generally wrote from the perspective of the ordinary rural dweller and his writing spans Scottish and European history from the fifteenth century up to the contemporary early twentieth century. Several of his works feature his own boyhood, loosely fictionalised.
His popularity was at its height in the 1890s and his most famous works remain The Raiders, The Lilac Sunbonnet and The Men of the Moss Hags, though other works such as Cleg Kelly, Kit Kennedy and most appropriate to Balmaghie The Standard Bearer are also popular among his readership.
In a career spanning more than two decades, he experimented in style and structure, particularly in his narrative stance. His work drew criticism and praise in equal measure during his lifetime, but he quickly became part of the marketed Victorian 'cult of celebrity' and remained on the bestseller list for over a decade. With the benefit of hindsight it is possible to see how important and influential his work is in the history of Scottish literature.
Today, you can explore Crockett's writing for yourself. Some works are available second hand, including the 2014 'Galloway Collection' and The Complete Crockett is a project dedicated to bringing all Crockett's writing online to download for free. If you want to read what others think of Crockett's writing, check out our Raiders Reviews.
‘Whatever I have written for other people I have always kept the best for you, and if I forget Galloway, my little Fatherland, may my right hand forget its cunning.’
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Honorary President: Richard D. Jackson. Founder: Cally Phillips.