(1916-1994)

Jessie Kesson

'words had caricatured their thoughts. And, by God, words could do that, right enough. Look and touch and feel should suffice to allow you to walk wordless all your days.'
('Glitter of Mica')

Much of Jessie Kesson's writing is essentially autobiographical, its abiding theme being the struggle for survival through times of deprivation, social dislocation and loss. Her characters find themselves challenged by circumstances that are largely beyond their control. The fine detail of their efforts to salvage dignity and identity is communicated with convincing immediacy, through language that is poetic, uncluttered, and rich in Scots. Her first novel, 'The White Bird Passes' (1958), draws on her own traumatic childhood experiences with her impoverished mother in Elgin and in an orphanage in Skene, Aberdeenshire. In 1934, she married Johnnie Kesson, a cattleman. He found work in the north-east, the setting for 'Glitter of Mica '(1963). A move to the Black Isle followed, a period that inspired 'Another Time, Another Place '(1983). Jessie Kesson was based in London from 1947 where she became a prolific writer of radio drama. 'Writing Her Life', Isobel Murray's illuminating literary biography, incorporates a wealth of her unpublished writing. On the page and in conversation Jessie Kesson's earthy sense of humour was gloriously irrepressible.

Jessie Kesson

Jessie Kesson, Edinburgh, 1987.

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