... Last weekend I was in Edinburgh for the Crime Writers' Association Conference - and what a fantastic event that was too!
Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities and whilst I was there I could not help but take advantage of any spare time to go and visit the Writers Museum which is located in a small secluded close just off the Royal Mile. Lady Stair's House, as the museum is known, is worth a look before you go in. The small door, the round turret above that houses the spiral staircase, the blonde stone of the lintels and windows against the darker and more varied stone of the walls. It's an amazing piece of 17th century architecture.
Built in 1622 for Sir William Gray of Pittendrum it was a family home for many generations. Lady Stair, Elizabeth Dundas, was the grand daughter of Sir William Gray, who married John Dalrymple, the first Earl of Stair. She purchased the house in 1719 and lived there all her life. By the end of the 19th century, the house had fallen into disrepair and was due for demolition. However, the Earl of Rosebery, a descendant of the Lady Stair's first husband, bought the property, restored, renovated and gifted it to the city in 1907. It first opened as a museum in 1913 and became the Writers' Museum in the 1960's.
|Some of my Stevenson|
Downstairs are the Stevenson rooms. The toy theatre, similar to one he would have played with as a child immediately captured my attention. Considering my background in real theatre, I suppose that's not so surprising is it? But its his wardrobe that is the most fascinating item to me. It was built by a man called Deacon Brodie (1741-1788), a cabinet-maker, respectable tradesman and city councillor by day and a gambler, womaniser and thief by night. Following a robbery from the Excise Office and Deacon's double-dealing, his thieving companions turned him in to the authorities. He was tried and sentenced to hang. But, Brodie would have no truck with that and he supposedly struck a deal with the hangman, to use a short rope, to leave him hanging for as short a time as possible and, to protect his neck he wore a metal collar under his shirt. Did he get away or not was the question that seemed to attract everyone else's attention.