Dunnett Newsletter – 24th April 2002

Greetings from Edinburgh where we’ve just held the 2nd AGM of the Dorothy Dunnett Readers Association (DDRA). Just over 50 people gathered in the Point Hotel for the meeting and the associated talks by Elspeth Morrison and Richenda Todd, and by Charles Burnett, with many of them coming on the bus trip to Blackness Castle and Torphichen Priory. I’ll report on the event in full later, but it went very well and I think everyone enjoyed it.

This main purpose of this quick newsletter is to let you all know that I’ve now set up the Dunnett web pages on my own site after partly rewriting them and adding a new navigation system. Go to


and click on the Dunnett button.
There is still some further re-writing to be done but I wanted to get them back available to you all as soon as possible. It’s likely that both my pages and the Dunnett pages will move to a different server in the future, but you’ll always be able to get to them by following that address.

Please let me know if the new drop-down navigation system works ok for you – it’s a little experimental but should work cross-browser on most modern systems, though I haven’t had the opportunity to test it on a Mac yet. And if you spot any typos or broken links I’ll be glad to hear about them – there are a few adjustments to be made and one or two of the drop downs don’t yet go anywhere (Dublin for instance) but at least they’re back up and can now be worked on when time allows.

I also wanted to let you know that the latest revision of the list of books from Dorothy’s house that are for sale is now on the site. I’ve been having trouble with the redirect so use the address


It was originally thought that we had to get the books out of the house very quickly, but thankfully this has been extended somewhat. The Colinton Road house has now been sold but the new owner is not coming in until June, so we have a few more weeks to go. This time I’ve attempted to put prices to the books, as many of you with no experience of buying older editions didn’t know what to offer for them. To be honest it’s a bit of a black art and one that I don’t claim too much expertise in, so we’ll still look at offers, but the prices listed should be a reasonable guide.

I’ve had very little time recently due to the work placement I’ve been on and the small business startup seminars and workshops I’ve been attending, so I’ll be passing any further orders on to Mungo and Ninian for processing and they will deal with you directly.

The US paperback edition of the new Vol 2 Dunnett Companion has just been released. The UK hardback edition is due in the shops shortly, though we managed to persuade Michael Joseph to give us some copies early to sell at the DDRA AGM.

Although I haven’t had time to read very much of the discussion groups recently, I did notice some people were asking about getting US copies in the UK and vice-versa, and whether booksellers were allowed to do this. This must be a tricky one since there are the two different editions with neither publisher likely to produce an edition in the “opposite” binding. Technically it depends on who owns the rights where, and how they are worded. In practice some booksellers may be cautious about it and some may not. World-wide internet selling has rendered the whole system of regional rights something of an anachronism, but the fact is that publishers do pay substantial amounts of money for these rights and have a valid interest in protecting them. However I can’t see companies like Amazon being bothered about that since they haven’t been in the past, and if they do it then everyone else will be forced to follow suit or risk their customers deserting them.

In the old days a few overseas sales by mail order didn’t matter much but now the potential is there for much larger transfers of sales. I suppose I was the main catalyst for Dunnett books with James Thin, but I suspect that it was the internet sales of UK editions of Harry Potter in the US that really woke the publishers up about this. You may well see simultaneous publication happening more often to avoid demand being generated when one country lags behind another. This may be hard for some companies as there are valid cultural differences why a book should be promoted at different times of the year. However I suspect that the increasing globalisation of publishing will eventually see world rights become the norm for anything other than small specialist publishers

Many of you have been asking about what has happened to James Thin. The position isn’t entirely finalised yet, but basically it is being sold off in two parts. Ottakers, who are a general bookselling chain based in England have bought the outlying Scottish shops and the remaining English ones. They will likely rebrand these as Ottakers shops. The branches in Perth and Ayr have been closed along with Huddersfield and Wimbledon, as no buyers could be found for them. It was announced to the press on Saturday that the academic shops including the South Bridge head office where I worked is being bought by Blackwells, who are the last of the independents and are well known as academic specialists based in Oxford. All the upper and middle management at South Bridge have either gone or are due to go shortly, and it looks as if there will be no head office functions retained. It seems that even the name will go and the Blackwells name used.

As for myself I’ve been doing a job placement with a search engine optimisation company in Leith and am hoping to be offered a permanent position soon. I also hope to start a small business, probably part-time at first, combining web design, writing and photography, with the web design side specialising in authors and publishers. Any of the authors on the list needing a web site designed for them?

It’s possible I may do some bookselling as well but the dispatching side of it takes so much time that this may not be a realistic option. As you’ll recall I had thought about trying to deal with the audiobooks but I’m glad now that I didn’t because there simply wouldn’t have been time to do it justice during the last few weeks – I seem to have even less time now than I did when I was working at Thins. I may look at it again but with Howes arranging sales in the US it would probably only be a small operation.

Will be in touch again soon with a report of the AGM.

Best wishes to you all and thanks for the continued messages of support.



Dunnett Newsletter 14th March 2002 – Paintings

Hello Everyone

Firstly a big thanks to everyone who has written to me after the last newsletter, offering badly needed encouragement and good wishes following my redundancy from Thins. I’ve been very busy trying to get myself sorted out and get on training courses and interviews, as well as replying to enquiries about the books in the Colinton Road house, so I haven’t been able to reply to more a than a handful of them. I’ll try and get round more of them when time allows but if it proves too much then please accept my thanks for them here. The good news is that I’ve secured a work placement with a web search engine company, starting Monday, and if things go well I’m likely to be offered a job by them – so fingers crossed.


This is the promised list of the paintings by Dorothy that are being auctioned in a few days time. Unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be a
website and the sale is at the beginning of next week so it’s impossible to get hold of images of the paintings in time to show them on my site.
Thus anyone who can’t get to the showings or auctions in person would be bidding blind. I’m told that the estimates on all these items are UKP 50 – UKP 100 – many are unstretched with the remainder being unframed. A Buyers Premium of 15% including VAT is payable on the hammer price.

This is the Press release and list of paintings



Scottish auctioneers Thomson Roddick & Medcalf will be holding their second sale of pictures and sculptures by some of Scotland’s best known ‘modern masters’ on Tuesday 19 March 2002. The “Good Paintings – 18th Century t o Contemporary” sale will be held at the Royal Scots Club, 31 Abercromby Place, Edinburgh.

Of particular interest in the sale is a selection of portrait sketches and paintings by the late Lady Dorothy Dunnett, the highly acclaimed novelist
and wife of the Sir Alastair Dunnett, Editor of the Daily Record (1946-55) and of the Scotsman (1956-1972). Lady Dunnett recently died at the end of last year aged 78. The portraits are to be auctioned on behalf of Lady Dunnett’s family.

With a formidable reputation as a novelist, from 1950 Lady Dunnett pursued a parallel career as a professional portrait painter. Lady Dunnett studied at both Edinburgh and Glasgow Schools of Art, and also became a member of the Scottish Society of Women Artists. On a regular basis she exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy, alongside having various portraits commissioned by a number of prominent public figures in Scotland.

Mark Medcalf of Thomson Roddick & Medcalf commented “Due to the international success of Lady Dorothy Dunnett we expect substantial
interest in the auction from collectors at home and abroad. The portraits are finely cra fted and natural representations of their subjects”.

Viewing will be held from Sunday 17 March through to the morning of the sale. For more information or to request a colour catalogue for the
Thomson Roddick & Medcalf auction at the Royal Scots Club on Tuesday 19 March 200 2, contact Mark Medcalf on tel: 0131 220 6680 t.rm@virgin.net

Portrait of a Lady, half length wearing a grey dress Oil on card 76 x 53cm Unframed Also studio model seated and man wearing a cap Oil on canvas 66 x 51cm (2)

Woman in purple seated, 3/4 length Oil on canvas 76 x 63cm and another portrait of a seated woman oil on canvas 61 x 45cm (2)

The Nude Model Oil on canvas 65 x 66cm also Lady in Green 51 x 36cm (2)

Seated Man Oil on canvas 61 x 51cm also another portrait, bust length of a woman (2)

Lady in an evening dress with beaded shoulders Oil on canvas 90 x 61cm

Portrait of a lady wearing a lilac sweater Oil on canvas 50 x 40cm and another of a young man bust length 60 x 50cm, (unstretched) (illustrated)
Still life of African masks with Chrysanthemum and silver dish 25 x 17cm

Portrait of a seated lady with embroidered cardigan Full Length, 61 x 45cm Half Length portrait of Lady with Red Dress and Fur Coat 61 x 45cm and Unfinished canvas (3)

Full length nude study of a woman 76 x 63.5cm and another two (3)

Full length nude study of a man with a stick 76 x 51cm Nude study of a reclining lady 63 x 76cm and another 76 x 63.5cm (3)

Portrait of a young girl wearing a red dress Oil on canvas, 50 x 40cm Another of a Woman in blue suit also 3 Portrait sketches of a
man 58 x 45cm (all unstretched) (5)

Portrait of an elegant lady wearing a pearl choker Oil on canvas 60 x 50cm Half length portrait of a young man 75 x 70cm and another
oil portrait, half length, of a man 60 x 45cm (all unstretched) (3)

Capriccio of a landscape with a guitar Oil on canvas (unstretched) 275 x 220cm (damages) (illustrated)


best wishes to you all


Dunnett Newsletter – 20th Feb 2002

Hello Everyone

A few changes since I was last in touch – to say the least!

Many of you who are on the discussion lists will already be aware of it but for those who aren’t the situation is as follows. James Thin Ltd went into administration on 10th Jan after the bank withdrew their overdraft facility, and a few days later the administrators closed down five of the English-based shops and made 128 people redundant. They also closed down the website and made myself, my assistant Pauline, and the order desk staff redundant, along with two of the Marketing Dept, a number of the stock controllers and parts of the Accounts Dept. Sadly, because it was the administrators rather than the management, my 21 years of service didn’t count for much and they were able to do it with immediate effect and without any redundancy payments other than the government-paid minimum. All a bit of a shock for everyone and a great shame that a company that has been around for 154 years should be reduced to such a condition. As yet there is no word of a new buyer for it although a number of names have been mentioned. Apparently the bids for it close at the end of this week so we’ll have to wait and see whether it will survive in a new form or not, and if it does whether all the remaining shops will be kept open.

The web site is actually still there if you know the component page addresses – it’s just the front page that has been replaced by a suspended notice and the ordering system has been switched off. However if they don’t renew the contract with the ISP the whole site will disappear in July. I have copies of all the files from the Dunnett pages – I wrote most of them at home anyway and of course many of the photographs are mine. I intend to rewrite the pages, which of course needed revision anyway to take account of Dorothy’s death, and put them up on a site of my own. Currently that site is http://home.freeuk.net/billmarshall/ but I’ve taken out my own domain address and may move the site to another host that can handle more complex scripting and backend processing. I’ll keep you informed. I’ll also use it for the news from the DDRA unless we later decide to set up a separate site for it.

Please don’t send messages to my old work address but only to my personal address which you’ll find below.

Before going any further I must say thanks to everyone who has sent me messages of support since the redundancies took place. They have been a great source of strength and comfort to me and I’m very grateful for them. With all the complexities of signing-on as unemployed, working on a new CV, registering with employment agencies, etc. I haven’t been able to reply to all of them yet, but I’m sure you’ll understand where the priorities have to lie at the moment. I’ll try and get to them when time allows.


One of the repercussions of the Thins collapse is that the facility for overseas readers subscribing to Whispering Gallery has been stopped. In fact when the company went down it was owing the DDRA a fair sum of money – a cheque was in the pipeline but was stopped when the bank withdrew the overdraft. We don’t know whether this will be honoured later or not. I’m looking into the possibility of using a PayPal account to allow people to continue to subscribe/renew to the magazine and would be interested to hear from subscribers as to whether they would be willing and able to use such a facility. The alternative is to get a UK Pounds cheque or an international money order as there is no way that the magazine can afford to pay for credit card facilities, and it would be a tragedy if the readership eventually dropped below a sustainable level because of this. Please let me know your opinions on this.


I recently heard from Elspeth Morrison and the release of the 2nd volume of the Companion is due to take place on 16th April for the US edition (paperback to match their Vol 1 edition), and 2nd May for the UK edition (hardback, to match their Vol 1).
Of course I can’t sell it to you any more though if I can get the new pages written in time I may try to get an affiliation deal with another online bookseller so that I can at least direct you to a suitable vendor and maybe make a small percentage from it for myself.


This brings me to another question. Many of you sent very complimentary messages to me about the piece I wrote for the newsletter covering the trip to Orkney. One of the things I would like to develop now that I’m no longer working for Thins is my writing, and travel writing about Scotland and other scenic places I’ve visited is one of the thoughts I’ve had. This newsletter will of course remain free, and I intend to continue it for as long as there is news and interest, but I’d like to know if you feel my other writing is worth paying for if I were to turn out other pieces comparable to the Orkney one. And how much would be an appropriate cost?
To be honest I find it hard to imagine charging people on this list, many of who I consider good friends, for my work. Guess I don’t really have the entrepreneurial spirit 😉 But I now have to consider all options and use my time as effectively as possible. Please let me know your feelings on this.


The 2nd AGM of the Dorothy Dunnett Reader’s Association will be held in Edinburgh on Sat 20th April at the Point Hotel, Bread Street. After the AGM in the morning there will be a question and answer session by Elspeth Morrison (a questions form will be sent out with the mailing pack for those attending) and after lunch there will be a talk by Charles Burnett, who is Ross herald and was Dorothy’s advisor on all matters heraldic. We also hope to have Richenda Todd – Dorothy’s editor for most of the House of Niccolo series. After the afternoon talks, assuming the weather is suitable, Elspeth will conduct a walking tour in the Royal Mile, and Joy Madden will be holding a session about Rosslyn Chapel. Places for these will be limited so you’ll need to book early.

The following day there will be a bus trip to Blackness Castle on the shores of the Forth in the morning, and then to Torphichen Priory in the afternoon. I’m sure I don’t need to explain the significance of these places to any of you!!
There are still plenty of places available for the weekend. If you’d like details please get in touch and I’ll pass them on.
The cost is £26 for the Saturday and £25 for the Sunday.


Now that Dorothy’s papers and research notes have been taken to the National Library in accordance with her bequest, Ninian and Mungo are planning to put the house at Colinton Road up for sale and of course there is the sad task of clearing those items for which they have no space. In the garage and various rooms in the house, there were a lot of books which the various publishers had sent her so that she could send copies to readers who wrote to her having and were having difficulties in getting them. There turn out to have been rather a lot of these – it took about three weeks to make an inventory of them and the initial totals were in the region of 2400. These aren’t part of Dorothy’s personal library but some of them were signed. Ninian needs to have these cleared by the end of February in order to be able to show the house – I had initially thought we would have until the end of April – and frankly neither of us has the time to deal with lots of single copy orders; the logistic involved in packing and posting are just completely beyond us. Since the house is obviously the main priority, the books, although in some case quite valuable, were of far less importance to him. However I didn’t want to pass up the possibility of keeping as many as possible of these within the Dunnett community rather than allowing them all to go to a dealer, so I’ve been in touch with a few of you who are known to deal with books on a reasonable scale, and we’ve accepted offers for quite a few of them. The time is now right to throw it more open and I’ve put a list of the books on my website at
I think we can try to take orders for say 10 or more items – please drop me a message if you’d like to make an offer for this sort of amount or more. If we manage to handle those then we may just have time to do a few for smaller amounts, but I can’t promise this so please understand the position. Remember that orders will have to have postage added at the real value – I’m afraid it’s not like the days of Thins absorbing part of the postage costs – and we’ll need to work out some method of payment that Ninian can accept.

Ninian tells me that there may be a sale of some other items from the house, including some of Dorothy’s paintings. I’ll post details of these when the time comes.


You may remember I mentioned in the last newsletter that a course has been run called “State and Society in the Fifteenth Century” based around Dorothy’s work. I had a message from the organiser about it as follows.


I don’t know if anyone is interested but I have been updating the website with readings and questions from our class discussions. I have also started a bibliography. It is only a few items so far but I am hoping that I will have time to expand it.

My students are doing reports on subjects of interest from the various books and I am hoping that they will be amenable to having the short reports posted on the website as well. I am not sure whether their final papers will be posted or not.

So far the class is going well. Even though there is a lot of reading (they are reading one novel almost every week), the group seems to be interested enough in the books to actually read about 5 times as much as students would normally be required to read in an upper-level history class.

Sharon D. Michalove
Associate Director of Undergraduate Studies, Dept. of History, UIUC


For those of you in Australia I’ve just seen mention on the discussion lists of a “Revel” in Melbourne.
It will be on March 16th & 17th 2002. Discussion, videos, book swapping, Lymopoly,
movies and dinner. Enquiries to:
ejcorbett@ozemail.com.au or jencathlee@hotmail.com

Anyone else with events that they’d like me to publicise please get in touch. And please send reports afterwards if you’d like to tell people about how they went. Whispering Gallery would also be happy to hear from you.

best wishes to everyone


Dunnett Mini-Newsletter – 1st Dec 2001

Just a quick couple of announcements


To follow up on the mention in the last newsletter – the audiobook of Disorderly Knights is now in and I’ve put hotlinks on the website in Dunnett Book News and in the Bibliography for anyone who wants to order it. Or you can use the following link if your email client supports it. http://www.jamesthin.co.uk/stocksearch/order/item?1841972940 It’s on 17 cassettes and is narrated by Andrew Napier again. Price is UKP 59.95 (+171/2% VAT in the UK) The only downside is that we weren’t in time to correct his faulty pronunciation of Lymond. Lets hope they sort it out for Pawn in Frankincense.

Still no fresh copies of Game of Kings but hopefully it shouldn’t be too long now. Queens’ Play is back in stock.


Our own Mercat Press have just published a book that I know quite of few of you have been looking forward to – particularly those of us who have been to this wonderful group of islands

New History of Orkney
William P L Thomson
529 pages UKP 14.99

It’s a new edition of a book originally published in 1987 which was the first history of Orkney for over half a century It’s been completely rewritten and extended, with important new work on the Picts, Vikings, medieval Orkney, and the Reformation. The author was for 20 years the Rector of Kirkwall Grammar School and has written numerous books and papers on Orkney and Shetland. >From what I’ve seen of it on a quick glance through it looks pretty good.


While searching for up to date information for a reader/listener the other day I came across something that may interest JJ fans. The two Dolly audiobooks that were published by ISIS are now on their new website – and they are selling at greatly reduced prices!! Here are the details:

Moroccan traffic
read by Judith Whale
UKP 19.99
12 Audio Cassettes 15hrs 30mins
ISBN 1856957993

Dolly and the bird of paradise
read by Maxine Howe
UKP 18.99
10 Audio Cassettes 12hrs 15mins
ISBN 1856959171

The ISIS web site is at


and you can order them from there (just run a search under dunnett in their search box). Please don’t try to order them from us, we can’t get them.


A correspondent has just sent me this link about a course called “State and Society in the Fifteenth Century” based around the House of Niccolo, taking place at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The tutor is a reader of this newsletter – hope you don’t mind the mention Sharon, it sounds fascinating. Err, can we all get honorary diplomas? 😉

best wishes to everyone