First published in 1891, J.M. Barrie's The Little Minister was quickly identified, along with Thomas Hardy's Tess of the D'Urbervilles, as one of the two great literary events of the year. Within the space of two years the book had sold in excess of 35,000 copies. Set in 'Thrums', the fictional name for the author's native Kirriemuir, the story follows the wistful love affair of Gavin Dishart, pious 'little' minister of the Auld Licht Kirk, and Babbie, a mysterious gypsy woman who emerges from the fairy world of Caddam Wood. Blending realism with romance, humour and pathos, The Little Minister shows all the touches of charm and genius that would come to fruition in the author's later work. A new introduction by Melodee Mattson lays emphasis on Barrie's formal and artistic concerns, discussing his preoccupation with sympathy, fantasy and illusion, issues that position his work as central to the literary culture of the 1890s.
Melodee R. Mattson studied literature at Montana State University - Billings and received an M.Litt. in English Literary Studies from the University of Aberdeen, where she researched the early fiction of J.M. Barrie. She resides in Billings, Montana, where she teaches literature.