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Up Yon Wide and Lonely Glen - Travellers' Songs, Stories and Tunes of the Fetterangus Stewarts

Up Yon Wide and Lonely Glen

Travellers' Songs, Stories and Tunes of the Fetterangus Stewarts

By Elizabeth Stewart
Compiled by Alison McMorland
Paperback : 9781617033087, 416 pages, June 2012
Hardcover : 9781617033148, 416 pages, June 2012

A collection of musical transcriptions, song lyrics, memoir, stories, and lore from a matrilineal line of famed Traveller balladeers, musicians, and storytellers


Elizabeth Stewart is a highly acclaimed singer, pianist, and accordionist whose reputation has spread widely not only as an outstanding musician but as the principal inheritor and advocate of her family and their music. First discovered by folklorists in the 1950s, the Stewarts of Fetterangus, including Elizabeth's mother Jean, her uncle Ned, and her aunt Lucy, have had immense musical influence. Lucy in particular became a celebrated ballad singer and in 1961 Smithsonian Folkways released a collection of her classic ballad recordings that brought the family's music and name to an international audience.

Up Yon Wide and Lonely Glen is a significant memoir of Scottish Traveller life, containing stories, music, and songs from this prominent Traveller family. The book is the result of a close partnership between Elizabeth Stewart and Scottish folk singer and writer Alison McMorland. It details the ancestral history of Elizabeth Stewart's family, the story of her mother, the story of her aunt, and her own life story, framing and contextualizing the music and song examples and showing how totally integrated these art forms are with daily life. It is a remarkable portrait of a Traveller family from the perspective of its matrilineal line. The narrative, spanning five generations and written in Scots, captures the rhythms and idioms of Elizabeth Stewart's speaking voice and is extraordinary from a musical, cultural, sociological, and historical point of view. The book features 145 songs, eight original piano compositions, folktale versions, rhymes and riddles, and eighty fascinating illustrations, from the family of Elizabeth, her mother Jean (1912–1962) and her aunt Lucy (1901–1982). In addition, there are notes on the songs and a series of appendices. Up Yon Wide and Lonely Glen will appeal to those interested in traditional music, folklore, and folk song—and in particular, Scottish tradition.


"Alison McMorland gives the Scots Traveller singer and storyteller Elizabeth Stewart a dynamic, literary voice. With unobtrusive scholarship, she has created a book of value to all interested in the power of song."

- Timothy Neat, writer and filmmaker

"This book is a repository of traditional lore, based on the songs, tunes, tales and personal reminiscences of Elizabeth Stewart of Fetterangus in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, a leading representative in her generation of the extended Stewart family of Travellers. With more than 150 song texts, along with musical scores, photographs, anecdotes, and tales of family history from the province of Buchan, the heartland of traditional balladry in Lowland Scotland, the volume is a treasure trove for anyone interested in the folk music and culture of Scotland. Alison McMorland has done a brilliant job of presenting the lively conversational prose of a natural storyteller, managing to get this original voice down on paper."

- Ruth Perry, Ann Friedlaender Professor, School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"This collection will be greatly welcomed by anyone interested in Travellers and Scottish studies in general, as well as performers, instrumentalists, and singers. The narrative avoids the folksiness of popular accounts of traditional singers and Travellers, and the many stories of second sight and encounters with the supernatural are set in a broad network of cultural practices. Stewart's repertoire is rich with ballads, lyrics, Music Hall songs, children's rhymes, parodies and often-belittled Victorian sentiment. This is an ambitious and wide-ranging collection which is not only an exemplary personal narrative but will form one of the fullest repertoires of a Traveller ever published, and extend in many ways our understanding not only of this well-known family but of Traveller culture as a whole."

- Gerald Porter, University of Vaasa, Finland

"This is a woman-to-woman book by Elizabeth Stewart, a remarkable Traveller singer and storyteller, about her family's rich musical heritage, created in collaboration with the exceptional singer and folklorist Alison McMorland. This proves to be the perfect combination. It is a labour of love and friendship enriched and validated by their communal knowledge."

- Peggy Seeger