William McGonagall was born in Edinburgh in 1830. His father was a poor hand-loom weaver, and his work took his family to Glasgow, then to Dundee. William attended school for eighteen months before the age of seven, and received no further formal education. Later, as a mill worker, he used to read books in the evening, taking great interest in Shakespeare's plays. In 1877, McGonagall suddenly discovered himself `to be a poet'. Since then, thousands of people the world over have enjoyed the verse of Scotland's alternative national poet.
This volume brings together the three famous collections - Poetic Gems, More Poetic Gems and Last Poetic Gems, and also includes an introduction by Chris Hunt, the webmaster of the McGonagall website www.mcgonagall-online.org.uk, indexes of poem titles and first lines, and features the first publication of McGonagall's only play, Jack o' the Cudgel, written in 1886 but not performed publicly until 2002.