We have been fortunate to purchase an unrecorded Glasgow printing from 1688 (AP.1.215.14). The work consists of only 24 pages stitched together without a protective cover. The printers of this Glasgow edition, James and Matthew Robertson, were two of the principal chapbook printers in Scotland from 1782 onwards. They also published children’s books.
The first recorded printing of the work was in Edinburgh in 1663. This was followed by four more editions printed in Newcastle and Edinburgh in the second half of the 18th century. Later still, Sir Walter Scott recorded hearing the verses in his youth in Edinburgh. He said they were sung by an old person wandering through the streets.
The work itself is a Scottish verse romance called Roswal and Lillian. The tale appears to be medieval in origin, and concerns Roswal, a prince of Naples who is forced into exile by his father, but who eventually finds love in his new home and marries the king’s daughter Lillian.