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Local Authors & Books

Books on a wide variety of subjects have been written by authors who have the villages of St Fillans, Lochearnhead, Balquhidder and Strathyre in common. Those listed either live locally or lived in the area during their lifetime. These classic to contemporary book titles and authors are listed in no particular order. 

Ursula Haselden - Lochearnhead

"I was an only child brought up in the wilds of rural Derbyshire on the edge of the Peak District. I had a pony, Taffy, and a cat, Tiddles. I wanted for nothing and did not go to school until I was seven. Then, later on, Ursulasince my mother insisted on adding a smattering of Latin to the mix. I was to spend the inside of the week away from home to attend grammar school in Derby. Then I transferred to Cheltenham Ladies' College, which I will always appreciate for its facilties, its motivation in encouraging girls to do what they wanted, rather than what their parents wanted for them, and its friendships. As I was classed a "nice girl", rather than a clever one (ie Oxbridge), I was advised St Andrews was the place for me. It was and I was very happy there, graduating MA in Philosophy and Psychology. Afterwards I worked in offices, married and had two children. My first husband died in 1981, I have lived in Brighton, Oxford, Kensington and St Andrews and latterly, back in the countryside in Lochearnhead, not unfamiliar, as we passed through it from Derbyshire every year to holiday at the "Ring of Bright Water" cottage near Oban. My second marriage, again to a retired RAF officer, led me back to St Andrews, from whence we decided to spend five years as live-aboards, winter and summer, exploring Aegean waters in our small sailing yacht, S/Y Cappelle, I would never cast myself as a writer, as this would seem pretentious, but the Aegean experience left me with a knot in my stomach, which I expiated by writing. This resulted in "Orchids for Aphrodite", published in 2009, and, more recently, in " - The Diary of a Ship's Cat", the life, as he saw it,, of the remarkable Greek feral kitten we rescued from the waves, who became our Ship's Cat. I have a son with a career in LA, a daughter, having followed me to the University of St Andrews, with a career in London, a step-daughter in Suffolk and another in Salisbury. My grandson, Felix, is presently at the University of Edinburgh and my granddaughter, Freya, is considering becoming a third-generation St Andrean. You can say my career, if such it is, has been keeping my head above water."  

Wacky -The Diary of  A Ships Cat was written by Lochearnhead resident Ursula Haselden and illustrated by Balquhidder artist Gill Allan Waugh of Mercat Design. The book launch was heWacky the Ships Cat Bookld at MHOR84 Motel and restaurant in Balquhidder. The book will be published on 23 June 2016 and be available in The Watermill bookshop Aberfeldy as well as the Lochearnhead Village Shop.

Ursula says " This book is for sailors, travellers (both armchair and active), cat lovers, the general reader and, of course, feral cats everywhere."

Dame Mary Archer DBE's cat, Sunita, a beauteous brown marble Bengali, who recently appeared in Tatler, a friend of Wacky, has been the first to write a review, which is as follows; 
Dear Wacky
I have read your book with much enjoyment.
Purrs.
Sunita. 
"This action-packed memoir of Ship’s Cat Wacky’s travels in the sailing yacht Cappelle  takes you by the paw from his circumnavigation of the Aegean up to his idyll in the far Hebrides. It had me grabbed by the whiskers from the off. WISH IT, DREAM IT, DO IT, as Wacky’s Pet once rather cleverly said, and so they have."
 
Book Titles: 

June 2016   Wacky - The Diary of a Ship 's Cat - Seashell

June 2010   Orchids For Aphrodite - Aegean Odyssey -                                                                                            "Sounds like an incredible journey"  Dame Ellen MacArthur

E. Bentinck - Lochearnhead

The Reluctant Cook

Libby Ransom, Lochearnhead, published The Reluctant Cook in 2011 using her mother's name Bentinck (many of the recipes were hers or her grandmother's). The book includes sixty well tried simple recipes from the Scottish cooking experiences of a grandmother, mother, wartime rationing and working as a cook in the 1960s. The emphasis is on economical healthy food making good use of leftovers. The book is available from SULA Furnishing shop, Balquhidder FK19 8NY and from the printer's website www.cpibookdelivery.com. The price of £8.99 includes a donation to Maggies Cancer Care Centres. The reluctant cook tweets new recipes to her followers, - on www.twitter.com/e_bentinck

Book Title:

2011 The Reluctant Cook -A journey to appreciating good simple food - by E Bentinck

Donald S McLusky - Strathyre

Donald McLusky has lived in Strathyre for almost 25 years. He was formerly a Senior Lecturer in Marine Biology, as well as the Head of the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Stirling. He has authored and edited several books. Since retirement about 10 years ago he has been a science editor with Elsevier publications. Elsevier is an international publisher with its headquarters in Amsterdam. The joke at Elsevier was that Donald's study in Strathyre was their Highland office, since all the editing was done from Strathyre with the benefits of broadband.

Book Titles:

1971 Ecology of Estuaries Heinemann

1987 The Natural Environment of the Estuary and Firth of Forth. Royal Society of Edinburgh

1993 Central Scotland: Land Wildlife and People Forth Naturalist and Historian

1994 The Freshwaters of Scotland John Wiley

1997 The Estuaries of Central Scotland Estuarine and Coastal Sciences Association

2004 The Estuarine Ecosystem (3rd edition) Oxford University Press

2000 – 2012 Chief editor of Journal: Estuarine and Coastal Shelf Science Elsevier

2011 Treatise on Estuarine and Coastal Science (12 volumes) Elsevier

Margaret Bennett - St Fillans MargaretBennett02

Margaret Bennett is a prize winning author, folklorist and singer who continues to write from her home on the edge of St Fillans (Dunira). Though originally from Skye,  Margaret has had a Perthshire connection for thirty years, from the time that her mother moved to Balquhidder.

Margaret was brought up in a family of tradition bearers with Gaelic on her mother's side and Lowland Scots on her father's. School years were.. More ... 

Elizabeth Beauchamp - Balquhidder

" I was born in Tain, Scotland's oldest Royal Burgh, in May 1917 while my father was serving in the navy during the First World War. By the early Twenties, there were three of us, all girls, and my father had set up his own printing business in Tain. I went to the Public School there and then to Tain Royal Academy. After getting my Higher's, I sat an exam for the civil service and got a post in London in the Scottish Education Department, knowing that, apart from a skeleton staff to be left in London, the rest of us would be joining the staff already in Edinburgh later in the year. We moved up in October 1935.

In 1939 the second world war broke out. I married in 1940. My husband was also in the Department and in November 1941, I returned to the Civil Service. On VJ Day (victory in Japan) August 1945, I applied for my release and was back home a month later.F or about twelve years thereafter I was a housewife in Edinburgh.

In 1957 the shortage of teachers was so great that the Government launched a Special Recruitment Scheme urging people who had the necessary scholastic qualifications - and were not more than forty five years old - to apply. My husband had just retired. With great trepidation I applied and was accepted. There were over 200 in my year and about 7 of us not straight from school. I was the oldest of the lot. It was a three year course at Moray House that I had chosen for it was primary school children I wanted to teach - preferably the older children and preferably in a rural school. In June 1960 I qualified and in August that year took up my post as teacher of primary's 5,6 +7 in Balquhidder School in Perthshire.  The head teacher....read more

Book Titles: 

Braes O' Balquhidder, first published by Heatherbank Press, Milngavie 1978.  

Please Miss -by Elizabeth Beauchamp - never published as of March 2014

Reverend Robert Kirk - Balquhidder

Robert Kirk was minister of Balquhidder from 1664 to 1685. He came from a fairly well –to-do family. His grandfather was a lawyer in Edinburgh and his father, Rev James Kirk, was minister of Aberfoyle. Robert Kirk was born around 1644 and died in 1692. He married Isabel Campbell, daughter of Sir Colin Campbell of Mochaster in 1678 and they had a son, Colin. When Isabel died, he married her cousin, Margaret Campbell of Fordie, and they also had a son Robert who later became a minister in Dornoch.

Robert Kirk senior was a scholar educated at the Universities of Edinburgh and St Andrews. In 1684 he published a Gaelic metrical version of one hundred psalms to assist in evangelising the Highlands. He revised the translation of the catechism by Sir Hugh Campbell of Cawdor and this was published in 1688 and he also translated the New Testament from Irish into Roman characters, completing the whole transliteration by 1690. His other famous work, "The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies" might appear to reveal an altogether more fanciful nature, but it was in fact a systematic attempt to gather evidence about fairies and supernatural phenomena in a scientific manner. Many of his parishioners believed in fairies and the second sight and he set about trying to produce a treatise which would make an important contribution to social history by recording their beliefs as a basis for further study. Those who have examined his work in detail suggest that he intended to produce a much wider-ranging work, a comprehensive study of the Scottish Gael, which, had it come to fruition, would have been as important a document as Sinclair's "Scottish Statistical Account" .....more

Book Title:

The Secret Commonwealth - Published posthumously by Sir Walter Scott using publisher Longman & Co 1815  

The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies -by Robert Kirk (re-edited by Andrew Lang with a dedication to Robert Louis Stevenson) published [1893] 

Ewen W Cameron OBE - Lochearnhead 

EwenCameron

By kind permission of his son Angus Cameron, this tribute to a well-know, well-liked and well-respected man was written in 1995 for the obituary of Ewen Cameron OBE. One of Ewen's many achievements and legacies includes the book of old village life photographs from 1890's -1970's, that he compiled and had published in 1994.

"Balquhidder church was filled to overflowing for the funeral of Mr Ewan Cameron. People came from throughout the region to hear the service conducted by the Rev. Jim Benson. Apart from the hymns, piper Roger Sharpe and Bob Pullar organist, played a selection of Gaelic music as befitted the funeral of a lifelong member of An Comunn Gaidhealach and a highland athlete.                                                                                                                                

Ewen Cameron cared about people and it showed. Born at Lochearnhead in 1926, he was victor laudorum at Trinity College, Glenalmond. After service with The Royal navy in the Asian theatre of war, 1944 to 1947, he returned home to his belowed Lochearnhead Hotel and took over the running of the business which had been in his family for three generations.

Ewen also took over the running of a farm belonging to his family, Glen Ogle, with sheep and Highland Cattle. He served on the Highland Cattle Society. Ewen also took up professional athletics in 1950 and was among the top heavyweights in Scotland for over a decade and was Scottish Champion in 1953.

His father revived the tradition of the Lochearnhead Highland Games and Ewen served as secretary, a role now carried out by his son Angus. Ewen was also President of The Games.

He was also a well known face at the Argyllshire Gathering, first as an athlete, then as a judge and finally in recent years as a friend. The Duke of Argyll presented him with a quaich for his services to the games over the years. His sporting interests led him to found The Lochearnhead Waterski Club and from there he became the chairman of the British Waterski Federation, a post which entailed travelling throughout Europe. He was also on the board of the Scottish Council of Physical Recreation and the Scottish Sports Council. In his civic duties, Ewen was elected to Perth and Kinross County Council in 1963 and was member for Comrie and St Fillans until 1975. Council reorganisation saw him elected to Stirling District Council representing Callander and Killin.

He went on to represent Strathearn on Perth and Kinross District Council until illness forced him to stand down. At the district council meeting on the day of his funeral, Provost Jean MacCormack paid tribute to Ewen as did councillor Mike O'Malley leader of the Labour members and the entire council stood for a minute's silence.

Ewens public duties also saw him on the consultative council of the Highlands and Islands Development Board and he was awarded the OBE in 1976 for, amongst other things, his work as depute director of Cumbernauld Development Corporation,

Given such a wide range of interests, The Lochearnhead Hotel in Ewen's days was a magnet for Highland folk from all walks of life and it was said that no one ever passed the hotel without calling in. Ewen became ill earlier in the year (1995) when he went to Sri Lanka with his wife Anne for the commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the end of the war. He never really recovered from the liver infection he contracted.

Ewen leaves his wife Anne, son Angus, daughter Tooti and grandchildren Kate, Archie, Jack, Lottie and Jock

He also leaves a lot of people with fond thoughts and warm memories of a man who was always active, but still found time for everyone."

Today Angus Cameron is president of The Balquhidder Strathyre and Lochearnhead Highland Games (2014). Like his father he is an active member of the community including; the community council, Lochearn Shears, Village Hall, Killin Mountain Rescue Team, The Lochearnhead Village Fete and The Water Sports Centre. Angus runs Lochside cottages for self catering holidays in Lochearnhead with his wife Ollie. The Camerons have three children, Lottie, Jock and Hamish. Angus and Ollie were founder members of The Loch Earn Tourism Initiative group.

Book Title: 

Strathyre, Balquhidder and Lochearnhead In Old Photographs  Published by Stirling District Libraries 1994 - Ewen W Cameron OBE

Catriona MacGeoch - Strathyre

MacGeoch front cover

In the 1950's photographer James MacGeoch accompanied the men of Ness on Lewis on a 50 mile journey to the isolated rock of Sùlaisgeir. There he captured images of the annual gannet harvest, one of the most iconic events in Hebridean life. As custodian of her father's images since her 'teens, Catriona set out to share them in his memory, resulting in a delightful book named Sulasgasier, "This is photography at its best –as social history and as depiction of people in their places"

"....I was thirteen years old when my father died and was not yet born when he went out on the first of his many trips to Sùlaisgeir. But over the years I knew somehow that I had to preserve all these countless negatives and slides and to be custodian of his work and that one day this book would happen. This book is something that I have wanted to do for so many years.... Catriona MacGeoch

Book Title:

Sùlaisgeir, Photographs by James MacGeoch   Published by Acair Limited 2010 - Catriona MacGeoch

Available for purchase at SULA soft furnishing and Interiors Shop, Balquhidder, FK19 8NY 

Major John Stewart of Ardvorlich - Lochearnhead 

Book Titles:

A History of Clan Cameron  Publisher John Bartholomew & Son, 1971 by John Stewart of Ardvorlich 

History of The Ardvorlich Stewarts - published privately 1963  

The Findlater Sisters (Mary and Jane) - Lochearnhead 

The Findlater Sisters were Edwardian authoresses. Mary and Jane were brought up and educated at their home in Lochearnhead in the 1860's during the time that their father Eric was minister of the free church in the village. Mary was born in March 1865 and Jane in November 1866. They moved to Prestonpans following the death of their father in 1886 and a love of writing turned into a source of income. They never lived apart. Subsequent dwellings were in London, Rye and Devon though they returned to live in Comrie just 12 miles from Lochearnhead. Their Comrie house was to be the final resting place for Jane in 1946 and Mary in 1963. Jane's first novel "The Green Graves of Balgowrie" is said to be her best known work. Set in the 18th century; the story draws on her own family history. "A Green Grass Widow" is a long short story that gives a sympathetic description of the Perthshire tinker and gypsy characters that she knew in Lochearnhead. The sisters worked together on many of the 24 titles listed below. Two of the books were also written in collaboration with their neighbour and friend Charlotte Stewart (of The Stewarts of Ardvorlich, south Loch Earn Road) and Kate Douglas Wiggins. Charlotte Stewart wrote under the pseudonym Allan McAulay. Further information is availabe in a book titled "The Findlater Sisters" written by Eileen McKenzie, published by John Murray in 1964.

Book Titles:

1895. Sons & Sonnets 1895 - Mary Findlater
1896. The Green Graves of Balgowrie - Jane Findlater
1897. Over the Hills - Mary Findlater
1897. A Daughter of Strife -Jane Findlater
1899. Betty Musgrave - Mary Findlater
1899. Rachel - Jane Findlater
1901. A Narrow Way - Mary Findlater
1901. Tales that are Told - Mary and Jane Findlater
1902. The Story of a Mother - Jane Findlater
1903. The Rose of Joy - Mary Findlater
1904. Stones from a Glass House - Jane Findlater
1904. The Affair at the Inn - Findlater Sisters with Kate Douglas Wiggins and Allan McAulay (Charlotte Stewart)
1905. All that Happened in a Week - Jane Findlater
1906. The Ladder to the Stars - Jane Findlater
1907. A Blind Bird's Nest - Mary Findlater
1908. Crossriggs - Mary and Jane Findlater
1911. Penny Moneypenny- Mary and Jane Findlater
1911. Robinetta - Findlater Sisters with Kate Douglas Wiggins and Allan McAulay (Charlotte Stewart)
1916. Seen and Heard Before and After 1914 -Mary and Jane Findlater
1916. Content With Flies - Mary and Jane Findlater
1912. Seven Scots Stories - Jane Findlater
1914. Tents of a Night - Mary Findlater
1921. A Green Grass Widow and other Stories - Jane Findlater
1923. Beneath the Visiting Moon - Mary and Jane Findlater 

Don and Bridget MacCaskill - Strathyre

DSC 0900

Don MacCaskill was a forester, naturalist, lecturer and photographer. He was born September 17, 1919 and died 

onMay 10, 2000 while out with his camera in the forests that he loved, near his home in Strathyre. His wife and co author Bridget MacCaskill, celebrated her 90th birthday in 2012. Don and Bridget spent many years watching wildlife in the great outdoors and forests around their home in Strathyre and the Trossachs. Together they observed; eagles, otters, foxes, badgers, buzzards and peregrines. Their home was often sanctuary to many a species of injured or orphaned wildlife including wild cats, red deer, fox cubs and birds of prey. The MacCaskill's common passion culminated in films for television plus a series of books documenting their insights and shared experiences of wildlife and the outdoors. Bridget wrote the texts and Don supplied the exceptional wildlife photography. Don was persuaded to write an autobiography which was published just 6 months before he died. In 2004 Bridget published a tribute to Don, combining a selection of his photographs with text and poems reflecting the seasons.  

*Thank you to Cherry Gunn of Creagan House Strathyre for recommending The MacCaskills for inclusion in our local author and book listings 

Book Titles:

Wild Endeavour   Published by Blackie  1975, Bridget and Don MacCaskill
Wild Lives Foxes: The Blood Is Wild   Published By Luath Press 1991,  Bridget and Don MacCaskill
On the Swirl of the Tide  Published by Jonathan Cape  1992.  Bridget and Don MacCaskill
The Blood is Wild  Published by Jonathan Cape 1995.  Bridget MacCaskill
Listen to the Trees  Published by Luath Press  1999,   Autobiography - Don MacCaskill
Wild Lives Otters : On the Swirl of the Tide   Published by Luath Press 2001,  Bridget and Don MacCaskill
A Private Sort of Life  Whittles Publishing 2002,  Bridget MacCaskil
On the Trail of a Nature Photographer  Whittles Publishing 2004,  Bridget MacCaskill and Julian Pettifer

Glenise Borthwick - Strathyre

Glenise BorthwickGlenise Borthwick is a member of The Loch Earn Tourism Group.  Glenise took time out in Glenvarloch, her holiday cottage in Strathyre, to write 100 Top Tips For Teachers on behalf of The General Teaching Council, drawing on 25 years experience in the profession. Leading satirical cartoonist Bob Dewar created the illustrations. The book is available on Amazon and all profits go to charity.

Book Title:

100 Top Tips for Teachers published by Luath Press Limited 2008 by Glenise Borthwick and Bob Dewar

"Whether you're already in command of a classroom, or are just starting out as a student teacher, these top tips will help you cope with pupils, parents and the everlasting pile of marking. Alternately practical, wise and funny, "Top Tips for Teachers" will guide you through those career defining moments: parents evenings, negotiating the staffroom and help you preserve your dignity when all you want to do is hurl chalk at the board. Teaching can be a rewarding vocation allowing you to get to know your pupils and guide them into their future. This book will keep you organised, calm and motivated until the summer holidays....." As reviewed at www.goodreads.com

Glenvarloch in the village of Strathyre is available for holiday weeks.

P J G  Ransom - Lochearnhead 

John Ransom and his wife Elisabeth (Libby) have lived in Lochearnhead for nearly forty years, and brought their two sons up here. During that time, and earlier, John has produced a succession of books about transport history, local history and related subjects. These he researched and wrote and in many cases illustrated with his own photographs. Libby too provided some of the illustrations, and helped with the research. John has also contributed chapters to many books of multiple authorship. Read More

Jim Crumley- Balquhidder, Author and Naturalist

Jim Crumley was born in Dundee, and after a career as a newspaper journalist in Dundee, Glasgow, Stirling and Edinburgh he became a full-time nature writer in 1988. Since then he has published 25 books from bases in Stirling, Glen Dochart and Balquhidder. What he describes as his “writer's territory” is a patch of the Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park extending from the Lake of Menteith and Flanders Moss in the south to Glen Dochart in the north. He has also featured in many BBC radio programmes, including adventures in Alaska and Norway, and a few minor sallies into television, including a film about swans that took him to Iceland. He looks forward to the day when the BBC sends him somewhere warm and dry to work! He contributes a weekly column to The Courier and a monthly Nature Watch column to The Scots Magazine.

Book Titles:

The Eagles Way (published by Saraband - 2014)

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The Great Wolf
The Last Wolf
The Winter Whale (all published by Birlinn)


Brother Nature
Something Out There
A High and Lonely Place
The Mountain of Light (all published by Keith Whittles)


Waters of the Wild Swan 6 (published by Jonathan Cape)


The Company of Swans (published by Harvill)


 

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