Today, I am finishing off the design and layout of the new edition of ‘Witness to Rebellion; John Maclean’s Journal of the ’Forty-Five and the Penicuik Drawings.
It has been a fairly arduous process, for although I designed the first edition back in 1996, recovering and assembling the old digital files has proven difficult (the first printer having gone out of business). It would indeed have been easier to start again from scratch. Still, it is almost done now and is looking very handsome (if I do say so myself).
The Journal of John Maclean is the first-hand account of the experiences of an officer of Prince Charles Edward’s army from August 1745, through Prestonpans and the taking of Edinburgh, the march into England to Derby, the withdrawal to Scotland and the final retreat to Drummossie Moor near Inverness, where Maclean was killed in the Battle of Culloden. It is the most poignant telling of the events of the ’45 rebellion that I have come across.
I addition, a remarkable series of drawings from the Clerk Collection at Penicuik House offers a unique view of the participants on both sides of the ’Forty-Five: a Rising for some, for others a Rebellion. No other comparable collection of images is known. These sketches were made in part as a factual record, but more so as an exercise in caricature, perhaps as a diversion from the very real dangers and disasters of the time. The result is an insight on the ’Forty-Five that is both telling and humorous.
Out and about over the last two weeks with Alexander McCall Smith. Events took place in Edinburgh with Fidra books with a delightful group of children from Bruntsfield Primary school reading from his latest book; London and a packed-out annual event with Daunt books in Marylebone High Street – the 11th event we’ve done with Alexander in this supportive and truly wonderful shop; Wivenhoe where he met and took tea and scones with the ‘ladies who knit’ at the Wivenhoe bookshop; Felsted School in Essex for an event within the Essex book festival (Alexander in conversation with the headmaster and one of the pupils to a packed hall with an audience from all areas of Essex and well beyond) and then back to Scotland for a second event in Edinburgh with Fidra at St Cuthberts Church; and two events with Main Street Trading (who serve the best coffee in Scotland) in a converted barn behind their shop in St Boswells near Melrose in the Scottish Borders. The weeks also included a live interview on BBC Radio 4 Start the Week, a recorded interview for BBC 3 Requests with Fiona Talkington and press interviews around the country. Coverage in the fortnight included a very moving article in The Observer magazine on a year spent in Belfast at the height of the troubles.
While on the road I had the opportunity to meet up with former actor and now writer, Max Benitz. A delightful young man with a very promising future as an author.
(Jan Rutherford, Marketing Director)
Yesterday, Tom Johnstone and Jim Hutcheson drove up north to Loch Tay to visit Keith Brockie, the wildlife artist. He lives near the old village of Fortingall (where legend has it, Pontius Pilate was born).
Keith is returning to the Isle of May on the east coast to follow up the famous work he did there
back in the early eighties. It looks set to be an exciting project.