The letters are taken from Alexander B. Grosart's two volume work: “The Poems and Literary Prose of Alexander Wilson” (1876). Volume I comprises Wilson's Literary Prose with the letters presented in chronological order.
David Brodie was a school teacher in Quarrelton village, near Johnstone, in the late 1780s—the time of these early letters of Alexander Wilson. Southall Wilson (1906) writes that he was an old friend who had worked alongside Wilson at the loom. Clark Hunter (1983) states there are records extant of Wilson working with David Brodie in a two-loom shop in Paisley. Wilson's poems and prose in his early letters to Brodie, though interesting enough, appear to be trying to impress his school teacher friend with his literary ambitions, or aspirations; they lack the natural, descriptive voice that is apparent, for example,in his work “Journal as a Pedlar”. They also show a despondency, sometimes verging on despair, on his chances of being successful as a poet and author and not all enamoured with his lot as a packman.