Jessie Kesson

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Jessie Kesson (28 October 1916 – 26 September 1994), born as Jessie Grant McDonald, was a Scottish novelist, playwright and radio producer.


She was born in a workhouse in Inverness and brought up in Elgin and then in an orphanage at Skene, Aberdeenshire from the age of 8. In her circumstances, she was not permitted to enter further education and had to go into domestic service.[1]

In 1934 Jessie married Johnnie Kesson, a cattleman, living in Abriachan and then Rothienorman.[citation needed] She and her husband were farm workers in North East Scotland from 1939 to 1951; writing from this period illustrates her abiding love of nature and immersion in the changing seasons.[2]

Encounters with Nan Shepherd and then Neil M. Gunn opened opportunities in writing, including plays for the BBC in Aberdeen.[3]

She moved to London in 1947, where she lived for the rest of her life. As well as domestic work, she worked as a radio producer, producing Woman's Hour and over 90 radio plays.


Her writings include The White Bird Passes (1958), filmed for BBC Television in 1980, Glitter of Mica (1963), Another Time, Another Place (1983) which became an award-winning film, and Where the Apple Ripens (1985).

In 2000, the first edition of Isobel Murray's authorised biography Jessie Kesson: Writing Her Life, published by Canongate, won the National Library of Scotland/Saltire Research Book of the Year. The second edition, published by Kennedy & Boyd in 2011, revealed the truth about Jessie Kesson's ever-absent father.


  1. ^ Murray, Isobel. "Writing Her Self". Retrieved 2007-09-17. 
  2. ^ A Country Dweller's Years: Nature Writings By Jessie Kesson. Edited with an Introduction by Isobel Murray. Kennedy & Boyd, 2009.
  3. ^ Campbell, Alistair. "Jessie Kesson Novelist & Playwright 1916-1994". Retrieved 2007-09-17. 

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