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The Man behind Macbeth, and other studies
Sir James Fergusson of Kilkerran
ISBN 9780902664968
Paperback   224 pages
Published March 2004    UK Price £14.95    US Price $21.95   

With his earlier books, Lowland Lairds and The White Hind, Sir James Fergusson of Kilkerran, Keeper of the Records of Scotland from 1949 to 1969, proved himself an outstanding explorer of practically untrodden byways of Scottish history, suggesting possible answers to unsolved problems and endings for tantalizingly unfinished stories.
The Man Behind Macbeth now puts forward the theory, with a wealth of historical evidence to support it, that Shakespeareís characters of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth had two originals in contemporary life: the notorious Captain James Stewart, briefly Earl of Arran and Chancellor of Scotland, and his flamboyantly wicked wife, two of the best-known and best-hated figures in Scotland during the early years of King James VI and I, that King for whose particular diversion Shakespeare wrote his play.
Whether or not Shakespearian scholars accept this theory, Sir Jamesís essay brings to vivid life two highly picturesque characters and some turbulent history un-familiar to the general reader. This book also includes, besides some investigations of subjects particularly associated with the county of Ayrshire where Sir Jamesís family have lived for many generations, a biographical portrait of the great archivist Thomas Thomson, his predecessor in the Register House, extracts from an officerís diary of the Crimean War, and an unusual approach to Jane Austenís novels.
Sir James Fergussonís long familiarity with record sources enabled him to make skilful use of previously unpublished documents and to illuminate the course of history from quite unexpected angles.

Originally published in 1969.


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