Jessie Kesson

(Jessie Grant McDonald)

1916 - 1994

Author and play-wright. Born Jessie Grant McDonald in an Inverness work-house. Kesson was born out of wedlock and her mother was abandoned both by her father and most of her family. Mother and daughter moved to Elgin where they lived in poverty. Kesson was eventually sent to an orphanage at Skene (Aberdeenshire). She went into service but met a cattleman, Johnnie Kesson, on a croft at Abriachan (by Loch Ness), who she married in 1934. The couple settled in the countryside moving to Rothienorman and then to the Black Isle during the war.

Kesson was encouraged to write following a chance meeting with Nan Shepherd (1893 - 1981) on a train. Through Neil Gunn (1891 - 1973), she became a contributor to the noted Scots Magazine. She began to write plays for the BBC in Aberdeen, moving to Glasgow and then London in 1947. She undertook a series of mundane jobs to supplement her income, but went on to produce Women's Hour on BBC Radio and write further plays for both radio and television.

Her writing is drawn from her hard experiences in rural communities and include the novels The White Bird Passes (1958), Glitter of Mica (1963), Another Time, Another Place (1983) and Where the Apple Ripens (1985), together with The Jessie Kesson Omnibus (1991).

Kesson died in London.

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