City Life was recently given the opportunity to meet one of Dundee’s newest novelists at the wee café inside Dundee’s Verdant Works Jute Museum. Who was this intriguing woman who has written a trilogy of books about one of Dundee’s most evocative of subjects – the Dundee jute mills?
As it turns out, this seventy year old grandmother, and mother of ex-professional Dundee footballer John McGlashan, has been writing wee poems and stories for most of her working career. Born and raised in Dundee, she was once chosen by Irish writer Brian Keenan for the ‘Best Writer’ award in a Radio Tay amateur writing competition many years ago.
Set in the Jute Mills of Dundee in the early 1900s, the books are an historical fiction following the lives of two sisters, Annie and Mary Pepper. Originating from Ireland, as many Dundonians did, the sisters come here in the pursuit of love and happiness but this proves to be more difficult than they expect. The sisters are tested by dramatic twists of fate again and again, but the bond of blood and sisterhood holds strong through it all.
“Annie Pepper” is the title of the first book, the sequel is called “Annie Melville”, and the final instalment in the trilogy is “Annie MacPherson”. However, there is actually a fourth book about the daughters of Annie and Mary, “The Pepper Girls”, due out soon. So where did the inspiration to write the Annie Pepper series come from?
“The name Annie Pepper kept coming through my thoughts…”
“It did’na start eh’m gonna write a book, it just started, let’s see whaur this goes and meh goodness it went, then came to life in a book.”
Sandra found out her own Irish great grandmother had the surname Pepper and her family worked in the jute mills, so the story of Annie Pepper is more real than you may think.
Magical History Tour
After our wee coffee and chat, we were invited into the Verdant Works Museum by the resident tour guide, Earl Scott. This seventy-six year old member of Dundee’s West End Walking Club guided us through the Verdant Works with the same enthusiasm and excitement as Willie Wonka in his magical chocolate factory. Earl, who worked in the Dundee mills all his life, brought the whole history of Dundee’s jute industry to life before our eyes. What an historical journey it is and what fortune it was for us, to catch such a passionate ambassador of Dundee on the only Thursday afternoon shift that he now does at the Museum. Thank you, Earl!
So get your hands on a copy, take it down to the Verdant Works café, enjoy a wee read with your tea and then take the magical history tour with Earl. Before you know it you will be transported back to the old Dundee jute mills with Annie and Mary.
WIN A BOOK TRILOGY
To celebrate our 1st birthday we are giving away a complete trilogy of Annie Pepper books! For a chance to win, like and share our Facebook page quoting ‘Annie Pepper’ or email us and tell us what you like about City Life Dundee.