Style and Technique

(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

Scott’s novel Redgauntlet is made up of correspondence between Darsie Latimer and Alan Fairford—with most of the letters written by Latimer—and is supplemented by journal entries written by both men. The episode of Willie’s tale is reported by Latimer to Fairford, as related to Latimer by Willie. The tale is rendered in Scots dialect, which Latimer faithfully records—a regular feature of Scott’s writing style.

The story makes many references to “the forty-five”—a code name for the Jacobite uprising of 1745 that supported the monarchical claims of the Young Pretender, Charles Edward Stuart. Willie appears again late in the novel when he fiddles the tune, “The Campbells Are Coming,” to alert those attending a Jacobite conspiracy meeting in time for them to be prepared for the law to enter.

Historical Context

(Short Stories for Students)

Scotland in the Late Seventeenth Century
The story begins with an account of Sir Robert Redgauntlet’s involvement in actual...

(The entire section is 681 words.)

Literary Style

(Short Stories for Students)

Point of View and Narration
‘‘Wandering Willie’s Tale’’ has an unusual point of view that combines elements of...

(The entire section is 788 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Short Stories for Students)

Seventeenth Century: In the seventeenth century, the old feudal relations involving service and protection, though passing away, still...

(The entire section is 373 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Short Stories for Students)

• How well does ‘‘Wandering Willie’s Tale’’ fit the pattern of the quest story as outlined by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with...

(The entire section is 255 words.)

Media Adaptations

(Short Stories for Students)

• The French Romantic poet and dramatist Alfred de Musset adapted ‘‘Wandering Willie’s Tale’’ into a French stage play called...

(The entire section is 123 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Short Stories for Students)

Redgauntlet (1824) by Sir Walter Scott, the novel in which ‘‘Wandering Willie’s Tale’’ is found, is a tale of a young...

(The entire section is 264 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Short Stories for Students)


Briggs, Julia, Night Visitors: The Rise and Fall of the English Ghost Story, London: Faber, 1977.


(The entire section is 597 words.)