james gillespies high school


On November 8th 2001 Dorothy Dunnett, the cult Scottish novelist, died.

The writer of intricate and meticulously researched historical novels, she attracted a devoted following with her multi-volume sagas. Her novels included the million-word Lymond Chronicles, in six volumes, which covered 15 years in the life of a 16th-century Scottish aristocrat, Francis Crawford of Lymond, she followed that with the eight-part prequel The House of Niccolò.

Aficionados of the Dunnett epics formed their own societies, met regularly at international conferences, and swapped theories about the puzzles and the sub-plots that the author sewed so carefully throughout the developing storylines.

Dunnet also wrote a novel about the real Macbeth called King Hereafter, and a series of mystery novels centred around Johnson Johnson, a portrait painter/spy.

An only child, Dorothy went to James Gillespie’s High School for girls, where she overlapped with Muriel Spark, and was taught by Miss Kay, the model for Jean Brodie. She discovered a talent for painting, and contemplated a career as an artist, but war broke out, and at the age of 16 she went to work as a civil servant, becoming an assistant press officer.

Only after the death of her father, which caused her great misery, did her husband suggest that she take up writing. She began researching the childhood of Mary Queen of Scots, and invented a character, Francis Crawford of Lymond, a dashing Scots mercenary, who travelled widely, visiting the French and English courts, caught up in intrigues across 16th- century Europe.

The Game of Kings, her first novel, was rejected by English publishers because it was considered too long, but was spotted in New York by Lois Cole, who had published Gone With the Wind. It came out in 1961 and was an instant best-seller, marking the beginning of a remarkable fictional journey, which took Dunnett round the world in pursuit of historical detail.

Although she led a busy life, her favourite relaxation was sitting in their Morningside home, with a glass of malt whisky, discussing the day’s events, sounds good to me!

As with many of our writers, Dorothy Dunnett is remembered in Makars Court, the stone bears her name, her coat of arms, and a brief quote from one of her books “Where are the links of the chain … joining us to the past”.


On November 1st 1969 Morag Siller the actress, voice artist, and radio personality was born in Edinburgh.

Morag was adopted along with her twin brother, soon after birth, she also had two older sisters and a brother who were adopted separately. She was brought up in the Morningside area of Edinburgh. She was educated at nearby James Gillespie’s High School, where she wanted to be a policewoman but fell short of the, then height restriction at 5'4".

Now usually when putting these together I tell you that the persons acting earned them a place on Taggart, Morag never appeared on Taggart but I read that on her way home from school, she came across a television crew filming an episode of Scottish police drama and thought “I want to do that” and so she caught the acting bug. A few of her friends had been asked earlier to be in background scenes but shewas too late in finding out and was gutted to miss out.

She joined Edinburgh Youth Theatre and took classes at the Edinburgh Acting School with the future This Life star Daniela Nardini. Leaving school at 17, she headed for London, where she trained at the Sylvia Young School and at Rada.

While studying she got her first paid role as a dancer in David Puttnam’s film Memphis Belle. From there Morag starred in many theatre productions as well as TV roles in amongst others, Hetty Wainthrop Investigates, The Bill, Trial and Retribution and Marchlands. She also had recurring roles in Casualty, as Leona, a lonely bag lady, Emerdale as Marilyn Dingle and maybe for fans of the Scottish drama serial, Monarch of the Glen you might recall her as champagne-swigging Flora Kilwillie, of which she remembered spending most of her time “getting bitten by midges and falling in lochs”.

In 2005 she married Tim Nicholson, a classical musician. They had been about to adopt a child in 2011 when Morag Siller was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She became a patron of two cancer charities, for which she organised fundraisers, and had hoped to resume the adoption process. But the cancer returned and she was told it was incurable.

Morag Siller sadly passed away at the age of 46 on April 15th 2016.

I was going to post a pic of Morag but as this is the second post today that we have lost someone to cancer. Don’t watch the clip if you don’t want to listen to a very touching speech by Morag less than a month before her passing. RIP Morag Siller  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i4Qwqk1i2WI