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The Crofter & The Laird

McPhee, John

ISBN 10: 0207954496 / ISBN 13: 9780207954498
Published by Angus & Robertson, London, UK, 1970
Condition: Fine Hardcover
From citynightsbooks (Allston, MA, U.S.A.)

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About this Item

First UK edition. Red boards, gilt titles, dark green endpapers, black topstain. Book fine, little wear. DJ has one faint stain at front panel, curled slightly at edges, some wear to heel of spine. Price of 1.75 sterling intact. 159 pp. Bookseller Inventory # 6711

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Crofter & The Laird

Publisher: Angus & Robertson, London, UK

Publication Date: 1970

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition:Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good

Edition: First Edition.

Book Type: Book

About this title


When John McPhee returned to the island of his ancestors—Colonsay, twenty-five miles west of the Scottish mainland—a hundred and thirty-eight people were living there. About eighty of these, crofters and farmers, had familial histories of unbroken residence on the island for two or three hundred years; the rest, including the English laird who owned Colonsay, were “incomers.” Donald McNeill, the crofter of the title, was working out his existence in this last domain of the feudal system; the laird, the fourth Baron Strathcona, lived in Bath, appeared on Colonsay mainly in the summer, and accepted with nonchalance the fact that he was the least popular man on the island he owned. While comparing crofter and laird, McPhee gives readers a deep and rich portrait of the terrain, the history, the legends, and the people of this fragment of the Hebrides.


Like several of his other books, McPhee's The Crofter and the Laird is about people whose lives are still very much entwined with nature. But this particular volume carries added depth and feeling because McPhee is writing about his ancestral land, the island of Colonsay in the Scottish Hebrides. Crofter and the Laird is no starry-eyed and naive "back to the land" tract: McPhee describes the rigors and difficulties of this life with the same attention to detail he gives to the simple beauty of the land and lifestyle. Colonsay is a stark region of stone and seals and sheep and storms, with its residents still living under a feudal system of farmers, crofter, and lord. But McPhee honors this homeland with a rich work that would make his ancestors proud.

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