The Well at the World's End

Cover GIF

Stokoe Code: A121
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Place: London
Date: 26th October 1951

First Edition:
The Well | at the World's End | by | NEIL M. GUNN | [space] | FABER & FABER LIMITED | 24 Russell Square | London

[A] (8), B - I (8), No J, K - Q (8), R (2), R* (10), S (8), 148 leaves.
p. [1] THE WELL AT THE WORLD'S END; p. [2] By the same author; p. [3] Title page; p. [4] [ital] Publisher's and Printer's notices: First published in MCMLI; p. [5] For | R.M.M.; p. [6] blank; pp. 7 - [295] Text; p. [296] blank.
5" x 7 1/2". Bound in blue cloth, spine stamped in gold:
THE | WELL | AT THE | WORLD'S | END | [ornament] | NEIL | M. | GUNN | [space] | FABER

Other Editions:
Cedric Chivers (at the request of the London and Home Counties Branch of the Library Association) | Bath | 1968
Souvenir Press | 1985
Canongate | Edinburgh | 2001
Birlinn | Edinburgh | 2008
The novel was dramatised for radio and broadcast in three episodes, 28th February 1970, 7th March 1970 and 14th March 1970.
An article entitled "Strange Happenings in the Highlands", being a conversation between Gunn and Deirdre MacDonald to coincide with the above broadcast appeared in: The Radio Times (Scottish Edition) | London | Vol. 186, No. 2416, p. 12. | 26th. February 1970

This novel draws more heavily than any other on Gunn's earlier work. The opening chapter follows closely: The Pursuit of Light | Scotland's Magazine | Edinburgh | April 1950 | pp. 38 - 41. and is clearly autobiographical as is the action of chapter three, which is based on:
The primitives in the Pool | The Glasgow Herald | Glasgow | 28th. October 1950 | p. 3.
The undermentioned short stories were also incorporated as interludes in the novel:
The Storm | The Scots Magazine | Dundee | February 1935 | pp. 349 - 357.
In a Spanish Garden | Argosy | London | April 1951 | pp. 97 - 104.
"The Storm" itself being rewritten as "Ride the Gale" in : The Saturday Evening Post | Philadelphia | 16th. December 1950 | pp. 20 - 21 and 104 - 106.
Argosy | London | March 1951 | pp. 5 - 16.
There is an incident with an illicit still which has similarities to episodes in "Whisky and Scotland", "Young Art and Old Hector" and the later, unpublished, film script "The Water of Life".
The understanding wife of the novel, Fand, apart from being a figure in Celtic myth, has been identified as Gunn's wife by his biographers (Neil M. Gunn: A Highland Life | F.R. Hart and J. B. Pick | John Murray | London | 1981) who report that the copy of the novel Gunn gave to his wife was so inscribed. They also report that Gunn had told them that Cocklebuster was the character he had visualised the most fully, and that he was based on a person he had met in the period 1911 - 1921. The conception of "The Well at the World's End" owes something to Connla's well in Celtic mythology according to Professor F.R.Hart in his "A Brief Memoir". (Neil M. Gunn: The Man and the Writer | A.Scott and D.Gifford, eds. | William Blackwood | Edinburgh | 1973)
This is a very symbolic novel concerning the search for truth and the inner self by a professor of history who is on holiday in the Scottish Highlands. There is more than a hint here of the thinking which was to be set out later in Gunn's spiritual autobiography "The Atom of Delight".

Details from C J L Stokoe's Bibliography