Foam of the Past by Fiona Macleod (Ed. Steve Blamires)

FoamofthePast300“…Fiona Macleod was clearly a gentlelady of breeding and intellect. She could be trusted. She was almost ‘one of us’ – but not quite. It was this slight difference that allowed her to deal with dark and frightening characters and subjects in a way that gave them the glamour of the Celtic Otherworld in an intriguing and believable manner. She was not threatening or dangerous in herself and she opened up a whole new world of language, ancient songs, poems and proverbs that had never before been presented to the English-speaking peoples south of the Scottish Highlands. Her subjects were taboo for other writers but she dealt with them in such a matter-of-fact way they came across as completely normal and routine. This somewhat disturbing treatment gave them an edge, an excitement, which was captured in her eloquence and strong use of dialogue…”

William Sharp (1855-1905) was the pen behind the writings of the mysterious Fiona Macleod. He kept her true identity a closely guarded secret. Many famous people - W.B. Yeats, “AE”, MacGregor Mathers, Dante Gabriel Rossetti – were involved in Sharp’s short life; he was a member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and Yeats’ secret Celtic Mystical Order.

Who better to present a new anthology of Fiona Macleod’s writings than Steve Blamires, author of The Little Book of Great Enchantment, a wonderful biography of William Sharp, and The Chronicles of the Sidhe, a ground-breaking analysis of Fiona Macleod’s entire oeuvre? The first book revealed previously unknown secrets from the life of William Sharp and showed clearly how to recover the Faery lore contained in Fiona Macleod’s literary output. Blamires illustrated how the writings of Fiona Macleod are not only about the Realm of Faery but are authentic first-hand accounts from the Realm of Faery, revealing previously unknown Faery gods and goddesses, Faery belief, lore and magic. In his follow up work Blamires encouraged readers to seek the same sort of faery contact that William had with Fiona, although stressing the uniqueness and rarity of that particular instance. The book gave practical guidelines for travelling the realm of faery, careful to show that it is not all one-way communication but needful of the willingness of the subject.  Both books are available from Skylight Press.

We are thrilled then to offer Foam of the Past, a new ‘selected writings’ of Sharp’s channeled pseudonym who went on to become a darling of Victorian readers and one earnestly courted by the fin-de-siècle ‘Celtic Twilight’ movement. Both writers, whether flesh or spirit, can be said to be prolific and Blamires gathers a unique selection that mines a rich seam of popular work as well as previously unpublished material. With great care he collates a selection of some thirty or so pieces separated into various sections, each beginning with bibliographical notes as to where and when each piece first appeared, as well as pertinent comments as to why they are included it in the anthology. He also appends useful footnotes to explain Gaelic words and phrases so that non-native speakers may have a better understanding of the stories in what amounts to a wonderful introduction to Macleod’s unique oeuvre.

Skylight Press is proud to present this collection, one not to be missed, in that it includes provocative dark tales, early church musings, mystical ecritures, reveries of nature, political polemics and various delightful vignettes a plenty. Foam of the Past is a gleaming new jewel for Scottish literature and Gaelic culture.

Foam of the Past is now available from various retail outlets such as, or direct from the Skylight Press website.


About Daniel

Writer & Musician
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