Greetings from Edinburgh.
I was planning to do a newsletter soon but just received the following from Ninian Dunnett and given the closeness of the date had to pass on the information immediately. There may be some more info next week.
I should just mention that I had some severe problems with my email for a few weeks – my redirect service changed their terms of operation and both my ISPs had problems with outgoing mail while one of my old addresses was discontinued. As a result a number of messages to me are known to have bounced and some of my replies weren’t getting out. If you were expecting to hear from me or if you sent anything to me and didn’t get a reply, then please contact me again. My bigfoot address should be fully working again but if you have any further problems then try using email@example.com
Dunnett items on sale at Thomson, Roddick & Medcalf, 10-12 noon, Saturday 17 August.
Commission bids will be accepted from prospective purchasers who are unable to attend the sale. For further information, please contact the auctioneers on firstname.lastname@example.org, tel (0131) 454 9090.
Note from Ninian Dunnett:
Our mother served for many years until her death on the board of the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh, an organisation to which she was energetically devoted. It was her wish that after she died her manuscripts, correspondence and other papers – which had been coveted by academic institutions on both sides of the Atlantic – should be donated to the National Library. Her sons in turn have undertaken to commit a proportion of the proceeds of this sale towards the ongoing cataloguing and maintenance of the Dunnett Archive at George IV Bridge.
The sale will include items from the Dunnett household at 87 Colinton Road, as well as more personal items relating to Dorothy Dunnett’s life and work.
The sale also includes the Dunnett library, including a substantial amount of DD’s research library. The sale will be on view Friday 16th, 10am to 6pm and on Saturday 17th from 9am.
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Artefacts from the personal collection of Dorothy Dunnett
James Gillespie’s 1st prize for class work in session 1932-3, when DD was nine: ‘Twenty-six Adventure Stories for Girls’. The then Dorothy Halliday attended the school four years after Muriel Spark, winning a scholarship every year which paid her fees. She won the intermediate dux’s prize, among this and other trophies.
Toy Theatre. The first entertainments devised by Dorothy in her childhood and early adulthood centred on her beloved toy theatre. Initially using the characters and equipment supplied by toyshops, she graduated to designing and making her own sets, lighting and characters for entire productions, and latterly would divert her family with miniature performances of operettas such as ‘The Mikado'(with music from her 78rpm record collection – see below) complete with an interval during which she would serve refreshments appropriate to the fictional setting. This collection includes extensive sets and characters, preparatory sketches and production notes.
Vocal score for ‘The Pirates of Penzance’, with cover painted inside and out by DD. DD’s lifelong affection for Gilbert and Sullivan was kicked off by this school production when she was in fourth year. She had other reasons to remember the show; her forehead bore a small permanent scar as a result of an accidental encounter with the truncheon wielded by the ‘Policeman’.
DD’s early collection of 78rpm records, including bound sets of ‘The Mikado’ and ‘The Pirates of Penzance’.
Pair turned wooden candlesticks. DD was always proud of her father, who died in the 1950s when she was still quite young. An engineer by trade, he had a well-equipped workshop in the family home, and in turn, when she hosted readers at her home in Colinton Road, DD would show them the candlesticks her father has made. (In fact, as the attached note makes clear, at one point she erroneously thought she had given one to a reader.)
Rachmaninov 3rd Symphony (mint 78rpm bound set). This was presented to Dorothy at her Scottish Office desk on her 21st birthday by her bosses, Alec Yeaman and Alastair Dunnett – with the latter of whom she would have her first date that night, and marry two years later. Signed with a humorous note by AMD.
Various DD artwork.
In the 1940s, Dorothy tried a range of commercial enterprises based on her painting and drawing skills, including book illustration, painted mugs and Christmas cards. From 1944-6 she was painting wood and perspex brooches which she sold to shops in Edinburgh (T. Ford, George St.), Newcastle (The Brunswick Picture Shop) and Falkirk for between 12/6 and 15 shillings. Subjects included ‘ballet’, ‘medieval’ and ‘flower’.
two badges, oil on clear plastic; one Edinburgh castle, one medieval courtship
box of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ badges on wood, various designs
In the 1940s and 1950s DD took evening classes at both Glasgow and Edinburgh colleges of Art, and from that period:
portfolio of pencil portraits labelled ‘Art School Studies’
roll of 29 pencil nude studies
From the days when as a schoolgirl she would strap a sketchbook and box of watercolours to her bicycle and head into the country, through the 1950s, when she began to exhibit her portraits in the Royal Scottish Academy and other galleries) DD painted throughout her life.
various oils and watercolours
portfolio of watercolour landcapes
Carved African figure. This was a centrepiece in the downstairs WC at 87 Colinton Road, a room whose collection of glowering masks prompted the actor Russell Hunter to describe it as “a monument to constipation”. The carved figure featured in several DD paintings (including one in the collection above).
Framed oil painting, signed ‘Dorothy Halliday 1951’, of DD’s father, Alec Halliday.
Pouch of early Dorothy Halliday publications: ‘Dorothy Halliday’s Scotland’, a booklet produced in 1949 for the Board of Trade; ‘The 1952 Buyer’s Guide To British Industries’, “completely rewritten by Miss Halliday”; and the ‘Scottish Field’ for May 1953, which features a four-page article written and illustrated by DD, describing an early pony-trekking holiday with AMD.
Olivetti portable typewriter, complete with instruction booklet. DD actually had two identical machines, on which she typed all her novels between the mid-1950s and the early 1980s, when she became one of the first writers to switch to a PC. The typewriter went everywhere with her; she described going into hospital in 1964 “and emerging with a chapter and a new baby”. (The other typewriter, in less good condition, is in the collection of the Writers’ Museum, Lady Stairs House, Edinburgh.)
Framed coat of arms for Francis Crawford of Lymond. This was designed in 1975 by a heraldic expert (whose name must remain confidential, for it is not proper for an office-bearer at the Lyon Court – Scotland’s ancient royal heraldic authority – to be moonlighting in the design of fictitious coats of arms). Considerable research went into making the coat of arms both historically accurate according to the heraldic traditions of the time, and incorporating characteristics apt for Lymond, such as the vine leaves which pun on the ‘Sevigny’ part of his name. As DD wrote: “In the style of the mid 16th century, and including all the elements described in the books, the phoenix rising from the flames with the pheon, which is an upturned arrow, and a coulter, which is the blade of a ploughshare, and a play on the family name of Culter, all within the engrailed border denoting the younger son of a baronial house.”
Coat of arms as above engraved on heavy glass vase. “Argent, a phoenix Azure enflamed Gules, in base a pheon of the second, all within a border engrailed Or.”
Miniature silver tree with gold rose and inscription from a DD poem, ‘Thy flying wit I braid with jewellery.’ This was brought to DD in 1987 in Edinburgh by a group of readers of ‘Marzipan & Kisses’, the American DD letterzine. DD wrote of “the amazing presentation”: “The deputation who brought it to me, who were mostly strangers to one another, became determined to meet again, and on a larger scale. From that came the first International Gathering with a banquet in Edinburgh University in 1990, followed by Boston in 1992 and Edinburgh again in 1994…”
Framed menu from the Medici Banquet at the 1990 Edinburgh Gathering. This hung above DD’s desk.
Other Dunnett Gathering memorabilia:
DD 2000 blue pouch.
Packet of blank postcards featuring covers from Niccolo books.
– Packs of Niccolo playing cards.
– ‘Dorothy Dunnett 1990’ post-it notes, pack of five blocks featuring Lymond coat of arms.
– CD, ‘The Musical Worlds of Lymond and NiccolÃ²’, and ‘Music from Lymond and Niccolo’ cassettes, by Edinburgh Renaissance Band.
– Two t-shirt transfers featuring six Niccolo covers and DD’s signature.
– ‘Confraternity of Lymond and NiccolÃ²’ leather bookmark with crests of characters.
Mug with NiccolÃ² crest.
Enamel DD badge with decorations representing DD characters.
Pewter bowl inscribed: ‘Dorothy Dunnett Philadelphia 2000 With Thanks From Your Readers And Non Readers’.
Unicorn on golden chain. In celebration of the 1993 Dunnett Gathering and publication of ‘The Unicorn Hunt’, Ross Herald Charles Burnett designed a reproduction of the first collar of honour granted by a Scottish monarch as an order of chivalry. (James III gave the grant in 1469 to a Flemish knight, Sir Anselm Adorne of Bruges, and it is also worn, in the book, by DD’s fictional hero NiccolÃ².) The full-size collar, of which this is a smaller derivative, is in the collection of the Writers’ Museum.
Books dedicated/inscribed to DD:
DD’s library included a substantial numbers of books whose authors claimed her as an influence or inspiration. Among these are:
Lindsey Davis, three inscribed ‘Falco’ novels – ‘Shadows In Bronze’, ‘Venus In Copper’ and ‘The Iron Hand of Mars’.
Other inscribed hardback first editions – ‘Outlander’, by Diana Gabaldon; ‘Too Deep for Tears’, by Kathryn Lynn Davis; ‘Robert The Bruce’, by Nigel Tranter; ‘This Rough Magic’ and ‘The Moon-spinners’ by Mary Stewart.
‘Anne Eliot’ was the writing name of Lois Cole, the American editor who discovered Margaret Mitchell’s ‘Gone With The Wind’ and Dorothy Dunnett’s ‘Game of Kings’. Three inscribed hardback Anne Eliot first editions – ‘The Dark Beneath the Pines’, ‘Return to Aylforth’ and ‘Murder at Villa Rahmana’. In addition, the third book is dedicated ‘To my good friend and favourite author Dorothy Dunnett, with admiration and affection.’