Encounters with Ewan Macphee
About this book:
The amazing story of Ewan Macphee, Scotland's last bandit. In 1850 Ewan MacPhee, these islands' last outlaw, died awaiting trail in jail in Fort William. This was a man who: had been forced to enlist at the time of the Napoloenic wars, and deserted; lived as an outlaw and rustler in Lochaber for over 20 years; had several capital offences hanging over his head; was a hero to the local peasantry at the time of the Clearances; and abducted a wife - who became his firmest ally in conflicts with the law.
MacPhee has fascinated Ian R. Mitchell for many years. He has sifted the surviving information on the outlaw, examined many of the legends associated with him, bridge the gaps with an imagination of great authenticity, to produce Mountain Outlaw, a historical-creative account of MacPhee's life. He did not exist at the high tide of Highland internecine warfare...but at a time when traditional Highland society had all but been destroyed. He lived not in the time of the Jacobite Rebellions...but in the era of steamships, railways and scientific advance. He waged a lonely and ultimately hopeless fight against the modern world...His tale...deserves to be told in a way that illuminates its epoch, and it is not without significance for our own.
...fascinating...a fine piece of work. And I am pleased to have more support for my ideas on social banditry. Eric Hobsbawm, author of Bandits
the book is packed with as much adventure, murder and mayhem as any work of fiction. Morag Lindsay, The Press and Journal
Intermingling what little documented accounts of MacPhee he could find with the folklore that surrounds him, (Mitchell's) intriguing little book takes the form of fictionalised accounts by various people, from landlords and officers - even that arch-romanticiser, Sir Walter Scott - to the outlaw himself. Jim Gilchrist, The Scotsman
[Mitchell's objective was to provide] a compendium of tales that do some justice to Ewan MacPhee. He has not failed in that objective, it is fascinating, indeed, to decide what real and what is less or more so, to separate the fict from the faction, or vice versa. All in all, it's an astounding story, intricately told. Tom Kyle, The Daily Mail