I Piped, That She Might Dance

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I Piped, That She Might Dance by Iain MacDonald, with a foreword by Hugh Cheape, is an historical novel based on the life of Angus MacKay (1813-1859), first Piper to the Sovereign, appointed by Queen Victoria. Mackay, who is one of the most significant figures in the history of Scottish music, died after a long battle with physical and mental illness, though he left behind collections of pipe music still played today. This account of his life traces his long journey, from humble origins on the isle of Raasay to the height of fame in Her Majesty's service and beyond. His story is one that has long deserved to be told, and Iain MacDonald has obliged in style.

Praise for the work: 

Revealing, sensitively written and eminently readable. It is an imagined autobiography of Angus MacKay, piper to Queen Victoria, but it is well-informed and thoroughly researched and convincing. Besides piping, it provides insights into the social life of the time, from croft to palace, as well as into the treatment of mental illness. Iain MacDonald is to be warmly congratulated.

John Purser, author of Scotland’s Music, researcher at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig


A sympathetic view of a driven and complex man ... Above all, a tale told with verve, flair, a fine eye for detail, and a sensitive depiction of the ultimate tragedy of the central character.

James Beaton, former librarian at the National Piping Centre


I loved this book ... It empathetically captures the triumphs and tribulations of MacKay’s life – from Raasay croft, via Balmoral and Buckingham Palace, and ultimately to the asylum. It is true to the facts, deeply researched and easy to read. Victorian life is described with pathos, humour and colour. A deservedly positive light is shone on MacKay’s lasting contribution to the music of the Highland Bagpipe, especially the classical Pìobaireachd. Iain MacDonald is to be congratulated. MacKay might have written this himself.

Jack Taylor, former president of the Pìobaireachd Society


The fascinating story of a controversial, flawed, but musically talented Scottish Gael who put the notes of the Highland bagpipe on the page.

Ellen Beard (PhD in Celtic, University of Edinburgh)


USA Customers: If ordering just the book and no other supplies, you might be best to order from Blackwater Press directly in the USA.

UK and EU Customers: the book is available from The National Piping Centre Shop , Blackwater Press and Waterstones.


ISBN: 978-1-7357747-0-1
Paperback, $24.99

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