John Mackay Wilson began his successful Border Tales publication in November 1834.
One tale that featured in it was The Legend of Fair Helen of Kirconnel, which was based on Stewart Lewis’s poem of love and loss involving Helen and her lover Adam Fleming. A slighted contender for her heart ambushes them both, and on firing his carbine, Helen falls into Adam’s arms, receiving the fatal shot. Adam kills the other man and escapes to Spain, only to return and die on top of her grave, near Springkell Kirkyard in Dumfriesshire.
Scott was greatly influenced by the Border tales, and he documented a version of ‘The Ballad of Fair Helen’ in his Minstrelsy of the Scottish Border (1869).
John Mackay Wilson, Wilson’s Historical, Traditionary, and Imaginative Tales of the Borders, and of Scotland. Vol. III. Glasgow: John McGready .