Bibliography - Introduction
For many avid enthusiasts this page will be basic knowledge but for anyone coming fresh to Dorothy's work it should be a useful reference. The more detailed pages which this links to are intended to catalogue all the various editions of her books for those who like to collect old editions.
Dorothy was with various publishers on both sides of the Atlantic at various times. These changes of publisher have meant that there have been times when her books have not been available due to the "grace periods" in between the old editions being allowed to fade out of circulation and the new ones coming in. That was certainly the case when I first set up the Dunnett pages on the James Thin site in 1995 and there have been various times since when they were not available.
As a result of this plethora of publishers there are a great many different editions of her work in existence. I would not be surprised to find that I have missed some editions out, so if you know of any that aren't mentioned here or on the covers pages then do please let me know.
The Lymond Chronicles
Dorothy was of course best known for her two major series of historical novels. She started writing Game of Kings - which grew into the 6 volume series The Lymond Chronicles - in the late 1950s, and it was published in 1961. Curiously it was first published in the USA after being rejected as too long by a number of British publishers. Alastair Dunnett had contacts in the US publishing world and famously wrote to Lois Dwight Cole, who had discovered and edited Gone with the Wind. He said simply 'How would you like to see an astounding manuscript of a story written by the wittiest woman in Scotland?' and she wrote back saying 'Send it', and a contract was offered almost immediately.
The titles are:
- The Game of Kings
- Queens' Play
- The Disorderly Knights
- Pawn in Frankincense
- The Ringed Castle
After Lymond was finished her publisher wanted her to undertake a single volume work on a major Scottish historical figure. Rejecting the obvious ones she chose Macbeth, and set to researching the real 11th century character who had been shamefully turned into an ogre by Shakespeare. That research was to take her 5 years and lead her to the conclusion that Thorfinn the Mighty, Earl of Orkney, was in fact the same person as King Macbeth. Faced with the choice of spending another few years on research to prove her theory or writing the fictional account that had originally been contracted for, she chose the latter and the result was King Hereafter, which some believe to be her finest work.
The House of Niccolo
Having decided that if she was to repeat the single volume process that she would only write 3 more books in her life, she turned once more to a series and conceived the idea of looking back to the period before Lymond, to look at how the development of trade and banking could allow a remarkable freedom of movement between classes for someone with the requisit skills. This became the eight volume House of Niccolo and cemented her reputation as one of the finest writers in the world.
The titles are:
- Niccolo Rising
- The Spring of the Ram
- Race of Scorpions
- Scales of Gold
- The Unicorn Hunt
- To Lie with Lions
- Caprice and Rondo
Johnson Johnson series
While writing the historical series she interspersed them with a series of spy/detective mysteries which were called after the hero's yacht, Dolly, and are usually known as the Dolly series or the Johnson Johnson series. These were originally produced under her maiden name of Halliday and have been renamed twice, which causes frequent confusion.
|Original UK Title||Renamed US title||Renamed UK Title|
|1||Dolly & the Bird of Paradise||Tropical Issue|
|2||Dolly & the Singing Bird||Photogenic Soprano||Rum Affair|
|3||Dolly & the Cookie Bird||Murder in the Round||Ibiza Surprise|
|4||Dolly & the Doctor Bird||Match for a Murderer||Operation Nassau|
|5||Dolly & the Starry Bird||Murder in Focus||Roman Nights|
|6||Dolly & the Nanny Bird||Split Code|
|7||Send a Fax to the Kasbah||Moroccan Traffic|
While in the middle of the House of Niccolo series she suggested to her publishers that a companion voilume could be produced to explain in detail the history and background of the two series and provide the sources of the many poems and literary allusions which crop up. This was undertaken by Elspeth Morrison and resulted in the Dorothy Dunnett Companion. After the completion of Gemini, Elspeth and Dorothy worked together on a second volume of the Companion which filled in further detail and covered the books that had not yet been written at the time of the first volume.
The Lymond Poetry
Following Dorothy's death the original manuscript came to light of a book of the poetry connected to the Lymond Chronicles, and this was edited by Elspeth along with Dorothy's most recent UK editor, Richenda Todd, into The Lymond Poetry.
There have not been too many tranlations of Dorothy's work, although perhaps when you consider the multi-layered complexity of the books it is not so surprising.
Some volumes of the Lymond Chronicles were published in German many years ago, but the translations have a poor reputation and the series was never completed and is long since out of print. A later attempt was made with an enthusiastic publisher but although the first volume was well received the project seems to have stalled and was never completed.
The Dolly series was also translated into German and this may well have been an easier task than the historicals. The book jackets can be seen in the Non-English Covers page.
Game of Kings was translated into Spanish and from what I heard was quite well done, but I don't think the rest of the series was tackled.
There were three volumes of the House of Niccolo translated into French around 1994 but again these were fairly poor and no more were produced apart from a three volume omnibus edition.
In 2004 I heard about a Russian translation of the first two books of Lymond and the covers of those can also be seen here.
Only in Italy does it seem that good translations have been produced and, last I heard, a number of the House of Niccolo volumes were still readily available in Italian bookshops. Dorothy always enjoyed travelling to Italy for the launches, particularly as her publisher was also a director of La Scala Milan Opera House and used to give her the best box in the house!
The Scottish Highlands
This was a book written together with Alastair Dunnett and in collaboration with photgrapher David Paterson and covers many of the areas of Scotland that they had explored together over the years. It was published in 1988 and went out of print in 1999.
The Musical Worlds of Niccolo and Lymond - The Edinburgh Renaissance Band
The Edinburgh Renaissance Band have had a long association with Dorothy's work and originally compiled a selection of pieces for the first Dunnett Convention which was held in Edinburgh in 1990, and subsequently released a cassette of the music. This was later expanded into a CD version with new recordings and some additional material. They also performed superbly at the Stirling Castle banquet during the Dunnett Gathering in Edinburgh 2000.
They later produced another CD - Music of Castle and Kirk - which also contains some music which is relevent to our time-periods.
For many years I sold their products, first through James Thin and later via this website. They now have their own site and you should be able to order available items directly.