Scotland's leading commentator and novelist unveils for the first time the complex web of rivalry, collusion, affection and hostility that has bound the Scots and the English for 500 years The thorny relationship between the thistle and the rose has been central to our history since the first attempt at dynastic union - the 'Rough Wooing' - between Margaret Tudor and James IV. Their great-grandson brought the nations together under a single monarch. A hundred years later, in 1707, the Treaty of Union was to link their destinies until the loosening of ties at the end of the twentieth century when the Scots opted for devolution. This compelling narrative is peopled with some of the greatest figures in history, from Bonnie Prince Charlie, Butcher Cumberland and Dr Johnson to James Boswell, Adam Smith and William Pitt. The nineteenth century saw Glasgow become the second city of the British Empire, and Queen Victoria launch the cult of Scotland - especially of the Highlands. The two World Wars brought the countries ever closer, only for the long story of devolution to begin. Margaret Thatcher's role in this growing disillusionment is analysed for the first time.
In revealing how the two nations have seen and influenced each other, Allan Massie questions whether this historic and powerful union can survive. His inspiring narrative will unsettle received wisdom on this most fascinating, turbulent and romantic relationship.
Allan Massie is a celebrated novelist and biographer. He is also a leading columnist for the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Sunday Times and The Scotsman. After reading history at Trinity College, Cambridge, he spent some years in Rome before returning to live in the Scottish borders. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.