Dorothy Dunnett

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Dorothy Dunnett , OBE (born August 25, 1923 in Dunfermline , Scotland , † November 9, 2001 in Edinburgh ) was a Scottish writer . She was best known for her six-part historical novel series about the hero Francis Crawford of Lymond, "The Lymond Chronicles", and the eight-part novel series "The House of Niccolò".


She also authored a novel on the historical Macbeth , King Hereafter (1982), as well as a number of contemporary detective novels about the portrait painter and agent Johnson Johnson.

Dorothy Dunnett attended Gillespie's High School for Girls in Edinburgh , which also included author Muriel Spark among her students.

In addition to her literary work, Dunnett was a trained painter and was commissioned by numerous prominent Scottish contemporaries to carry out portraits. Much of her work has been exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy .

In addition, she was heavily involved in the cultural and socio-political area of ​​her Scottish homeland. For example, she served on the boards of the National Library of Scotland and the Edinburgh International Book Festival , and served on the Scottish Television board for many years.

Dorothy Dunnett had been married to Sir Alastair Dunnett , editor-in-chief of Scotland's most famous and prestigious daily newspaper, The Scotsman , since 1946 .


The Lymond Chronicles

The manuscript for Dunnett's first work, The Game of Kings , was rejected by five British publishers before it was published in 1961 by the American publisher Putnam. Five more volumes followed over the next 15 years.

The exact researched novel series to the Scottish nobles and mercenary leader Francis Crawford of Lymond leaves Europe in the 16th century in visually stunning language and vivid detail buy and takes the reader from the farms of Mary Stuart and Elizabeth I on France , Malta and the Ottoman Empire to into Russia of Ivan the Terrible .

The volumes in the series:

  • The Game of Kings (1961) (dt. Bobby Fischer )
  • Queen's Play (1964) (German danger for the queen )
  • The Disorderly Knights (1966) (dt. In the Sign of the Cross )
  • Pawn in Frankincense (1969)
  • The Ringed Castle (1971)
  • Checkmate (1975)

Only the first three volumes of the series are published in German. The German translations are somewhat shortened and do not always do justice to the richness of detail in the language and allusions of the English original.

The House of Niccolò / The House of Niccolò

The series, set in the 15th century, is set in the fascinating world of trade and politics of the European Renaissance , against the background of which the reader follows the meteoric rise of the protagonist Nicholas de Fleury (Niccolò).

The individual volumes are:

  • Niccolò Rising (1986) (German formerly The Colors of Wealth , now Niccolò's Rise ISBN 978-3-608-93741-1 )
  • Spring of the Ram (1987) (German formerly The Spring of Aries , now Spring of the Aries ISBN 978-3-608-93742-8 )
  • Race of Scorpions (1989) (German formerly The Game of Scorpions , now Game of Scorpions ISBN 978-3-608-93743-5 )
  • Scales of Gold (1991) (German formerly Das Gold von Timbuktu , now scales made of gold ISBN 978-3-608-93744-2 )
  • The Unicorn Hunt (1993) (German unicorn hunt ISBN 978-3-608-93745-9 )
  • To Lie with Lions (1995)
  • Caprice and Rondo (1997)
  • Gemini (2000)

After the first German-language edition of the series was discontinued by the publisher after the fourth volume, Klett-Cotta tried to reissue the entire series in a completely new translation. Due to a lack of commercial success, however, this attempt was given up after the publication of the fifth volume Einhornjagd .

In December 2007, dtv published Niccolòs Aufstieg as a paperback.

The Johnson Johnson Novels

In addition to the large-scale historical novel series, Dorothy Dunnett wrote a number of loosely connected contemporary detective novels, centered around the portrait painter and agent Johnson Johnson. The German editions are currently out of print. The dolly from the title is the protagonist's sailing yacht.

  • Dolly & the Bird of Paradise , also published as Tropical Issue (1983) (German Dolly and the Bird of Paradise )
  • Dolly & the Singing Bird , also published as Rum Affair or The Photogenic Soprano (1968) (German Dolly and the Singing Bird )
  • Dolly & the Cookie Bird , also published as Ibiza Surprise or Murder in the Round (1970) (German Dolly and the decoy )
  • Dolly & the Doctor Bird , also published as Operation Nassau or Match for a Murderer (1971) (German Dolly and the bird of death )
  • Dolly & the Starry Bird , also published as Roman Nights or Murder in Focus (1973) (German Dolly and the night bird )
  • Dolly & the Nanny Bird , also published as Split Code (1976) (German Dolly and the Kingfisher )
  • Moroccan Traffic , also published as Send a Fax to the Kasbah (1992) (German deadly fax )

Other works

Dorothy Dunnett considered her masterpiece to be her novel about the historical Macbeth , which appeared in 1982 after 5 years of research under the title King Hereafter .

In addition, she and her husband wrote the text for the illustrated book The Scottish Highlands (Photos: David Paterson), published in 1988.

A contemporary short story The Proving Climb , set on the Scottish island of St. Kilda , appeared in the 1973 anthology Scottish Short Stories .

The abundance of historical allusions and quotations in the Lymond Chronicles and the House of Niccolò led to the publication of two "companion volumes", written by Elspeth Morrison in collaboration with Dorothy Dunnett. There readers will find more information on the historical personalities in the novels as well as explanations of classical allusions and references to the sources of the quotations used.

  • Elspeth Morrison, The Dorothy Dunnett Companion , 2 volumes, only published in GB / USA

Awards and honors

In 1992 Dorothy Dunnett was awarded the OBE for her services to literature . The Game of Kings was voted second among the "100 Best Scottish Books of All Time" by readers in 2005. On April 22, 2006, a memorial stone for Dorothy Dunnett was unveiled in a solemn ceremony at Makars' Court in Edinburgh. The Makars' Court honors Scotland's literary heritage; Dunnett's memorial stone sits next to memorial stones for literary greats such as Robert Louis Stevenson , Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott .

Fan base

Dorothy Dunnett has an active worldwide fan base who maintains interest in Dunnett's work through regular meetings and events, as well as in several discussion groups on the Internet.

At the center is the Dorothy Dunnett Society, founded by Dorothy Dunnett himself, which has set itself the task of promoting public interest in the works of Dorothy Dunnett and the historical background of her books. The Dorothy Dunnett Society publishes a quarterly magazine, Whispering Gallery , which is mailed around the world. The Society's annual general meeting is held each spring in Scotland.

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