From Newsletter to Blog

Way back in the mists of time (ok 1995), when the Dunnett pages on the then James Thin website were so new the paint was still wet, I started sending out notifications of new books to the loyal Dunnett readers. Back then selling books overseas was all done by letter and Dorothy’s new Niccolos used to come out 6 months earlier in the UK than in the US. Email was a revolution, and the website was siezed on by readers desperate for news – remember that Dorothy was doing the cliffhanging bit with the endings at the time and it was 2 years between books. To make matters worse for the poor readers the Lymond Chronicles had been out of print for quite a while due to a change of publisher.

Back then I knew little of the stories but was learning fast about the state of play with the books. That soon changed as the simple emails turned into newsletters which got longer and longer as I started reading. I liked to do things in person in those days so I deliberately didn’t archive the newsletters on the site but greeted each new subscriber with a personal message and sent them the laste few issues. Of course that was when the shop was running and I had time to do it. I kept this up for a while after the shop folded and I was out of work, but once I was working again time grew short so I archived them on the site and let people download them themselves. Later the job got a bit precarious and I had to devote more time to it in the evenings to help keep things going. The newsletters stopped and I didn’t even have time to acknowledge the new subscribers – something I was very unhappy about but could do nothing to fix without inventing the 36 hour day. After over two years without a newsletter I decided to turn the newsletters into a blog so that it would fit in with the limited time I have available these days. The old newsletters are all archived here in a form that hopefully makes them useable for those that want to see what went before. The comment facility will hopefully allow people to interact with the site in a better way than before, and the RSS feed should make it easier for you to keep in touch with new postings without the admin overhead of keeping the mailing list up to date. Hope you like the blogs.

slainte (Scots Gaelic for good health)


From Newsletter to Blog — 3 Comments

  1. Dear Bill
    I’ve thought of contacting you before now but have been a little shy.
    I’ve been a DD fan for many years .. since picking up GoK in the mid 70s from the local library. From the title I thought it would be a book about chess. Well I was right and I was wrong. From the first line Lymond Is back, I was hooked; and have been ever since.
    I’ve read all of DDs work – the Lymond Chronicles, House of Niccolo, Johnson Johnson, and once a long time ago King Hereafter – but that one only the once. LC and HoN have been re-read many times and I’ve started GoK again now.
    I had to hunt for copies of each book in second hand stores but eventually acquired copies of all six of the LC. HoN was easier to buy though I don’t have one single set of either but that’s okay.
    When I first started reading LC I didn’t know anyone else who had read DDs books and felt somewhat in the wilderness. I did introduce my daughter to Lymond and consequently to Niccolo et al. So then had at least one other person to discuss the wonderful intricacies of Dorothy’s marvellous writings. This was before the wonder of the Internet. Of course now I see so many fan sites, blogs, etc. And have thought where you all those years ago when I wanted to share my love of Lymond, and Dorothy, and later Niccolo.
    As you can see I married one of those naughty Douglases but don’t hold that against me.
    Why am I writing? Just to say hello and to see what happens now.
    Cheers / slainte from the Antipodes.

  2. Hi Gail – no need to be shy, all Dunnett readers are welcome here and I’ve been in contact with thousands over the years!

    Your experience echoes so many messages I’ve received, particularly in the early days of the website when the email discussion lists were still relatively new – “I thought I was the only person in the world who read these books…” was the way so many of them started! It was great privilege to assure them that there were many others and to be able to introduce them to each other.

    How lovely to have your daughter to discuss the books with – how early an age did you introduce her to them? I know quite a few people who have only read King Hereafter once – a handful who found it difficult but most who couldn’t bear to re-read the ending knowing the tragic finish.

    Being a former chairman I have to put in a plug for the Dorothy Dunnett Society – though you’re a long way away the quarterly magazine is worth the subscription on its own. Incidentally Dorothy enjoyed a trip to Australia the year before she died – appearing at one of the literary festivals – and had dinner with some readers. I still have a postcard that she sent me.

    As for marrying a Douglas, well no-one’s perfect but I trust that you have all the positives (any leonine hair in the family?) and none of the negatives 😉



  3. Thanks Bill,

    My daughter was in her mid teens when she started reading the Lymond Series – so about 30 years ago. It has been good to be able to discuss the intricacies of each of the books. Of the six LC books our favourite is Pawn in Frankincense with its beautiful imagery (have been to Istanbul as well) and that dramatic and tragic chess game. (which K did he kill? His own of course – for love of Philippa we both believe).

    The branch of family Douglas that I’ve married into has no leonine hair .. All dark haired Franco Scots and with a bit Irish too.

    On family names, my maiden name is Shepherd .. Not a very important Scottish family I suppose – but we do have the most basic tartan :). My great x3 grandfather was Thomas Shepherd and it is thought he was born on the Belcarres estate, the home of the Lindsays of Crawford – an interesting coincidence. His father was one of the gardeners and Thomas also became a landscape gardener, training under a Mr Thomas White (a pupil of Capability Brown) and Mr Humphrey Repton. Thomas eventually emigrated with his family first to New Zealand and then to Sydney, where he established horticultural gardens to support the colony. He was a renowned horticulturist, viniculturist, and landscape gardener.

    I see you love Slovenia. We had a ten week holiday last year .. our last big overseas trip. Part of it included a tour along the Adriatic coast, including some time in Slovenia – Ljubjana is such a lovely city. We also did a ten day tour of the Low Countries with a couple of days in Bruges – a wonderful city – and a visit to Jeruzalemkerk was a must. We were at one time thinking of coming to the UK and would have come to Edinburgh (my husband is actually from Clydebank) but I’m sorry France won out. We spent a few days in Lyons and went through some of the traboules – fantastic. We had some time in Venice (3rd time there 🙂 ) and I see a Dunnett Carnival will be held there this year. Unfortunately, we won’t be there – back to touring Australia in the caravan.

    Ironically on TV tonight is the Edinburgh Military Tattoo .. that was held in Melbourne in February.

    I have been thinking about subscribing to the DD Society

    Cheers now
    Gail D.

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