Songs of the Grey Country

Joan Rundall came to London some time after her mother's death in 1909, perhaps in 1910. In 1912 she married Arthur Grigsby but when she published this, her first volume of poems, in 1916, she retained her maiden name. The theme of the poems is Scottish, more specifically the Scottish lowlands where she grew up (in Moffat, in Dumfries). Faith Norris claims (on what basis?) that she had the ambition of being the first Scottish woman poet published in England in the 20th century; she did not know that Fiona MacLeod's poems would have had that honor if William Sharp's widow had not revealed at his death in 1905 that he had been Fiona MacLeod. It would be interesting to know if there are any signs that Joan Grigsby knew the Fiona MacLeod poems. Her choice of the Lowlands as her subject might be significant in this regard, with its implied contrast to the Highlands or the Isles which, as Faith Norris remarks, were the more popular topic for poetry.

Faith Norris says that her mother first published poems in 1913 in "a Labour Party magazine."  Songs of the Grey Country was published in 1916 and Faith Norris says (p35) that she had heard from a family friend of a second printing, linking this to sales in Moffat bookstores. There are no signs of such a second printing, however, the very few copies available through antiquarian booksellers are of the first edition.

Read the Poems

GREY MARE"S TAIL.                     THE SILENT LOCH

These three photos form the frontispiece facing the title page