a real slice of traditional Scottish Traveller life" - Richard O'Neill
TV programmes like My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, books like Gypsy Boy and the recent disturbances at Dale Farm have created enormous interest in the history and lifestyle of gypsies. Scottish gypsies, known as travellers, have wandered Scotland's roads and byways for centuries, and their turbulent history is captured in this passionate new book by Jess Smith, the bestselling author of Jessie's Journey. This is less a conventional history than a personal pilgrimage through the stories, songs and culture of a people for whom freedom is more important than security and a campfire under the stars is preferable to a warm hearth within stone walls. Settled society has always discriminated against travellers and Jess tells shocking stories of bullying, violence, the enforced break-up of families and separate schooling. But drawing on her own and her family's experiences, she also captures the magic and drama of days wandering the roads and working the land, and brings to life the travellers' rich and vibrant traditions.
Way of the Wanderers has been a book which has taken several years to research. Travellers/Gypsies have little knowledge of their history. This is partly due to a mainly oral culture. Nothing was written down, culminating in much of the heritage and language lost to the mists of time. Gathering what scattered remains exist has been a mountainous struggle. I take the familiar path in the old Bedford bus, our home of many summers to share the history with readers in this book. There's a lot of eye opening and at times harrowing material but I feel its a story long overdue and needs telling.
"Your book is a breath-taking achievement. You have done your people proud and honoured your family in the most fitting way possible" Jim Crumley