Dorothy Dunnett Society Sun, 25 Jan 2015 20:17:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Essex Day 2015 Fri, 23 Jan 2015 23:38:27 +0000 Continue reading ]]>  

Essex Day 2015 Dorothy Dunnett Essex Day 2015 will be held on Saturday 28th February at Craft Arena. We will hear from the 18th Baron Petre about his ancestry particularly the 2nd Baron Sir William Petre who was a member of the Muscovy Company; the history of embroidery and a chance to stitch; there will be live lute music and a talk from Paul Egholm about the construction and history of the lute; a quiz and an evening meal at a local restaurant if you wish. If you would like more information contact Linda at email hidden; JavaScript is required by 31st Jan with your email address. Places are very limited, so first come, first served!

In association with the Dorothy Dunnett Society

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Edinburgh Weekend 2015 – booking now open Thu, 18 Dec 2014 22:16:52 +0000 Continue reading ]]> 25th January update: Saturday’s gala dinner and the Sunday excursion to Bowhill and Abbotsford are now fully booked and a waiting list is in operation.

Download the booking form

Dorothy Dunnett readers are warmly invited to attend the 2015 Edinburgh Dunnett Weekend and the Dorothy Dunnett Society’s Annual General Meeting based again this year at the Royal OverSeas League (ROSL) in Princes Street, Edinburgh.

The first treat of the weekend will be the opportunity to visit the Scottish National Portrait Gallery on Friday 17th April between 2-3 pm to view a self-portrait by Dorothy Dunnett

Later, at 5.45 pm, members are invited to attend a standing drinks reception to launch the Society’s new publication, Edinburgh: The Dorothy Dunnett Guide, written by Nicky Cannon. This will be held in a private room at the Sheraton Hotel, in Festival Square and will be followed at 7 pm by our traditional welcome meal in the main restaurant.

The weekend activities continue on Saturday 18th April when we will gather at the ROSL for a packed day of lectures, debates and conviviality. Our speakers are Pauline Brace, Dr Stephen Lloyd and members of the Edinburgh Renaissance Band. More details about the lectures can be found in Whispering Gallery issue 125 (Dec 2014).

We will end the day with the Annual General Meeting of The Dorothy Dunnett Society. All members are invited to attend and non-members will be able to enjoy refreshments in the ROSL bar. Saturday will culminate at 7 pm with our gala dinner in the ROSL’s Castle Restaurant with its fabulous views across Edinburgh.

On Sunday Sold out! we will travel by executive coach to Bowhill, home of the Duke of Buccleuch. There we will divide into groups for a guided tour of the house including some rooms not always open to the public, and see an exhibition of exquisite miniature paintings. We will then travel the short distance to the newly refurbished and award winning Abbotsford House Visitors’ Centre where we will lunch, before enjoying an exhibition about the life and work of one of Dorothy Dunnett’s favourite authors, Sir Walter Scott. Afterwards we will again divide into groups for a guided tour of Abbotsford. We return to Edinburgh by coach arriving back by 6 pm. Those who wish may make their own arrangements to dine that evening at one of the many restaurants and bars on offer in Edinburgh.

We hope to see many of you at the weekend. Please note that places are limited – particularly on Sunday – and so a prompt return of your booking form would be advisable.

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Francis Crawford tops best Scottish character poll Mon, 01 Dec 2014 22:52:13 +0000 Continue reading ]]> DEVOTEES of Dorothy Dunnett, the late historical novelist, have voted the star of her acclaimed novel series into top place in a poll to find Scotland’s favourite literary character!

Francis Crawford, from Dunnett’s books The Lymond Chronicles, beat off competition from the likes of Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus, JK Rowling’s boy wizard Harry Potter, Begbie, the fearsome psychopath from Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting and Chris Guthrie, the heroine in Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Sunset Song.

The charismatic character’s adventures across Europe unfolded in the Fife-born writer’s books between 1961 and 1975, becoming her best-known works, although the original’s manuscript was rejected by five different UK publishers.

Despite the young 16th century nobleman making his first appearance more than half a century ago, he emerged as the clear winner ahead of characters including Arthur Conan Doyle’s legendary sleuth Sherlock Holmes and Dame Muriel’s Spark’s iconic schoolteacher Jean Brodie.

Read more at the website of The Scotsman.

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The Dunnett Literary Debate 2014 Mon, 01 Dec 2014 22:42:49 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Last year the Dorothy Dunnett Society had a very successful debate on theme of History: Fact and Fantasy with three writers and an historian. The University of Dundee invited us back this year to discuss Effects of reading on mental health, cognition and memory, and why ‘the creation of rich new worlds, whether rooted in history or fantasy, is so important in most people’s lives’.

On our panel was Simon Hedges, a past chairman of the society, who has organized several international Dunnett Gatherings; and Julia Hart who is a long-time member and contributor to our magazine Whispering Gallery. Julia was a teacher of English Literature, and is now an ordained priest of the Church of England. We were particularly privileged to have as our special guests Trevor Harley, Professor of Cognitive Psychology at Dundee University with recently published research  into the effects of language impairments in dementia and Parkinson’s disease; and Stuart Kelly the well known critic and author. Stuart reviews books for a number of newspapers and appears on BBC radio Scotland’s book programmes, and has been a judge for the Man Booker Prize for Fiction. He is also reader in residence for Edinburgh Napier University’s Creative Writing MA.

With this particular panel we expected a lively and enlightening debate –  and the discussion exceeded our expectations! Trevor Harley said that reading was a form of mental exercise; he stressed the importance of reading fiction. Acts of imagination were particularly important: parts of the brain can be seen to light up when reading fiction. He also stressed the benefits of book groups. It is a social activity which shares insight and which can stave off cognitive ageing. The audience found Professor Harley’s contribution fascinating.

Stuart Kelly made some stimulating comments, pointing out how we consume reading compared to other works of art like painting or a symphony; we rarely consume a novel in ‘one go’. How does one interpret our ongoing reading of the novel? How do we create a balance of detail and ambiguity? Julia remarked on the distinction between readers who identify with the characters and readers who think of themselves as associates, possibly friends.  Simon chaired the event with wit and wisdom and also remarked that some readers hated the character of Austen Grey [Lymond Chronicles] without examining his motivations, but often discussions and on-line debate tended to moderate views.

The audience in the crowded room –  we were promoted to the big theatre – were clearly enthralled, and the enthusiastic show of hands for questions was evidence of how stimulating the audience found the speakers. Many in the audience  approached Dorothy Dunnett Society members to tell them how much they enjoyed the discussion, and remarked on how much they had learned.

Many thanks to the Dundee team of Barbara Milner, Ann Auchterlonie and Pam Keeling for their hard work and imagination in organizing this event. Great support was given to the Society by the University of Dundee, and it is our hope that the Dunnett Debate will be an annual fixture.

Stuart Kelly is the author of Scott-land: the man who invented a nation. He is currently working on a book on religion.

Professor Trevor Harley’s textbook ‘The Psychology of Language’ (fourth edition) will soon be available.

Ann McMillan
Honorary President
The Dorothy Dunnett Society

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Edinburgh Renaissance Band concert at Rosslyn Thu, 30 Oct 2014 17:57:34 +0000 Continue reading ]]> The Edinburgh Renaissance Band, who have a long and friendly connection with the Dorothy Dunnett Society, will be giving a candlelit concert at Rosslyn Chapel just outside Edinburgh on Saturday November 14th. The concert will offer an insight into the musical entertainment of a medieval court with a performance of vocal and instrumental music from across Scotland and abroad which would have inspired, captivated and entertained the Barons of Rosslyn and their guests. For tickets go to

The Edinburgh Renaissance Band memorably collaborated with Dorothy Dunnett to produce the ‘The Musical Worlds of Niccolò and Lymond’. This CD is still available from the Band’s website

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Whispering Gallery 124 now arriving Fri, 03 Oct 2014 21:45:46 +0000 Continue reading ]]> We are delighted to hear from members in England and Wales that Whispering Gallery 124 has started to arrived following our enquiries to Royal Mail.  If you haven’t received your WG by Sunday 12th October, please let Simon Hedges or Suzanne McNeill know via our contact form.

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Whispering Gallery 124 delays Sun, 28 Sep 2014 18:42:53 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Whispering Gallery 124 has been despatched as usual, but we have been notified that copies to English and Welsh addresses have been delayed because of a problem in the Royal Mail depot.  Please be assured that the magazines are in the postal system and we are working hard to sort the problem out.

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Dorothy Dunnett History Prize 2014 Sat, 27 Sep 2014 13:14:30 +0000 Continue reading ]]> The Dorothy Dunnett Society is pleased to announce that The Dorothy Dunnett History Prize 2014, worth £1000, is now open.

Entries for the competition will be accepted from history students registered on a PhD programme at any recognised higher education institution. Essays may address any aspect of current historical research that meets the Society’s constitutional aim which is:

To advance the education of the public concerning the history, politics, culture and religion of the 11th, 15th and 16th centuries by promoting the study of and research into such subjects particularly as they relate to the works of Dorothy Dunnett, and to disseminate to the public the results of such research.

Submissions will be considered by a panel of Trustees of The Dorothy Dunnett Society and academics drawn from the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies, University of Edinburgh.

Further details of the competition and application forms can be found at the website of the Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies at Edinburgh University,

The closing date for submissions is Monday 24th November 2014.

Jen Myers (Academic Prize Administrator)

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Dunnett Carnival of Venice Sat, 13 Sep 2014 17:04:18 +0000 Continue reading ]]> Mon 19 Sep – Fri 23 Sep 2016

Organised by Simon Hedges and Olive Millward, following on from the Dunnett Siege of Istanbul and the Dunnett Siege of Malta.  Visit the places in Venice that Niccolò and his associates would have known, in the company of fellow Dunnett readers.

For more info, contact Simon Hedges via our Contact Us page.

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Dunnett Debate at the Dundee Literary Festival Tue, 12 Aug 2014 22:55:29 +0000 Continue reading ]]> The Dorothy Dunnett Society’s Dundee members, with the organisers of the Dundee Literary Festival, have arranged their second event at this Festival. We hope you can come and join us. For more details go to

Saturday 25th October at 2.00 pm
Books: Escape from Reality, or Food for the Soul?
Reading and the Mind: in partnership with the Dorothy Dunnett Society

Inspired  by  the  worlds  created  by  Dorothy  Dunnett,  we  take  our  starting point from her rich historical chronicles and consider others, including those of George RR Martin, Walter Scott and JRR Tolkien, and the pleasure they bring readers. With Trevor Harley, Professor of Cognitive Psychology in the School of Psychology at the University of Dundee, Stuart Kelly, critic and author of ScottLand, and the Dorothy Dunnett Society’s Julia Hart,  we’ll delve into the effects reading has on mental health, cognition and memory, in conversation with Simon Hedges.

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