Aye Write! 2018 at the Mitchell Library Glasgow

Or: Red Clydesiders, the Dear Green Place & Sparkling White Snow

The Mitchell Library Glasgow

Great event at this year’s Aye Write! Glasgow Book Festival and the large turnout was all the more impressive given the snow that had been falling all night and continued to fall through the morning. The Dear Green Place turned white.

What the well-dressed/warm author is wearing outside the Mitchell Library, Glasgow. Tammy and scarf by Rosemarie of the Brecon Beacons, aka Bopa, our Welsh Auntie Rosie.

I was on with Natalie Fergie, author of The Sewing Machine. I was speaking about the new paperback edition of my When the Clyde Ran Red: A Social History of Red Clydeside. We were chaired by Daniel Gray, author and historian.

Daniel Gray and Maggie Craig at the Mitchell.

Where we are here is the Mitchell’s computer hall and cafe. In times gone by, before a disastrous fire in the 1960s, many of the dramas of Red Clydeside were played out here in what was St Andrew’s Halls. For example, there was the Christmas Day meeting of 1915, when the men of Red Clydeside’s shipyards, engineering works and munitions factories took on the government. As Tom Johnston, a Socialist firebrand who later became Secretary of State for Scotland and prime mover behind the many hydro-electric schemes in the Highlands, put it: “Mr Lloyd George came to the Clyde last weekend in search of adventure. He got it.”

Mrs Pankhurst spoke here too in support of Votes for Women. On one of these occasions, just before the outbreak of the First World War, she was arrested in the midst of what the Daily Record newspaper called “a scene of wild riot” where they claimed there had been the sound of: “Revolver Shots in St Andrew’s Halls.”

It was thrilling to be speaking here among these passionate ghosts from the past and also because I did a lot of research for When the Clyde Ran Red here in the Mitchell. In my youth, like many a Glasgow student, I used to come here to swot and to eye up the talent who were doing likewise.

There were some really interesting questions and comments from the floor and lots of books signed at the end. Thanks to the lady who gave me a wee badge showing Mary Barbour, one of the most prominent leader of the rent strikes of 1915, and subsequently a local politician and social activist.

Mary Barbour Badge

In 1915 Mary Barbour led a protest march to the Sheriff Court in the centre of Glasgow, which was soon dubbed “Mrs Barbour’s Army”. A statue has just been erected in Govan to commemorate her and her army.



Our journey home up the A9 gave us some wonderful vistas of snow-covered hills under blue skies and brilliant sunshine. Perishing outside or, as a neighbour of mine puts it, “a fine day for being behind glass”. Looks like the snow is retreating and winter is finally beginning to give way to spring. No photoshopping here, the colours are all true.

Snowy hills by the A9.
Red roofs and snowy hills.



When the Clyde Ran Red: A Social History of Red Clydeside is available from High Street and online bookshops.



Only 99p for my Glasgow & Clydebank Family Sagas!

Only 99p on Amazon (and the equivalent in US and Canadian dollars) for each of my popular and well-reviewed six Glasgow & Clydebank family sagas until the end of February. Here are the buying links:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Amazon Canada

If you’d like to read more about the books and see some of the excellent reviews before you buy, please click here.

Only till the end of February 2018!


One Sweet Moment, my story of love across the class divide in 1820s Edinburgh, is also available for 99p and corresponding prices until the end of February only. Or you might like to buy the physical book, for a wee bit more than 99p!


Red Clydeside & The Scottish Suffragettes

The Scottish Suffragettes by Leah Leneman


This year we celebrate the centenary of women over 30 in Britain finally winning the right to vote but what links Red Clydeside & the Scottish (and English) suffragettes? Quite a lot, actually. You can read about the connections in the new paperback edition of When the Clyde Ran Red: A Social History of Red Clydeside.

The book is available for pre-order now and I’ll be speaking about it at Aye Write! at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow on Sunday 18th March from 1.15 – 2.15. I’ll be on with Natalie Fergie, who will be talking about her novel, The Sewing Machine.

Tickets for Aye Write! available here.

#votesforwomen #scottishsuffragettes #redclydeside #ayewrite!




Christmas 2017




Over Christmas and New Year, the ebook version of my novel One Sweet Moment is available on Amazon UK for only 99p and on Amazon US for the equivalent in dollars and cents.  If you fancy buying the book in paperback or the audio version, these are also available on both Amazon UK and Amazon US. To buy the paperback  with free postage and packing throughout the world, check out The Book Depository. The pb version is of course also available from High Street bookshops.

One Sweet Moment is listed by the Scottish Book Trust as one of 15 Romantic Novels set in Scotland. A coming-of-age story and a poignant tale of young love and old Edinburgh which moves between the gloomy and dangerous underground vaults of the Old Town and the sparkling chandelier-lit parlours of the elegant Georgian New Town, One Sweet Moment has been described as “almost Dickensian in the richness of its storytelling” (Christina Banach) and as “a big, huge, romantic story.” (BBC Radio Scotland)

The cover of the paperback incorporates a drawing by Walter Geikie, a sadly short-lived Edinburgh artist whose favourite subjects were the ordinary people of Edinburgh. He makes a cameo appearance in the book.




And with that, Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year when it comes.





The Scottish Warrior: Event at the Gordon Highlanders Museum in Aberdeen

Looking forward to speaking about Jacobite men as well as Jacobite women as part of a panel at the Gordon Highlanders Museum in Aberdeen next Monday, 6th November, on the subject of ‘The Scottish Warrior in Commemorations, Museums and Politics.’ This is a free event but booking is required here. 

Doors open at 5.30, when refreshments will be available and a selection of my books will be available to buy. Panel presentations start at 6.00 and end after an audience Q & A at 7.30.

#ScotWarrior2017 #jacobites #university of aberdeen #gordonhighlandersmuseum



A Scottish Nurse in the White War: The Italian Alps, 1917-1918.

In the Sunday Herald of 22nd October 2017, Angus Robertson, SNP MP and journalist, wrote a moving article on the ‘forgotten front’ of the First World War, the struggle between Italian forces and those of the soon-to-crumble Austro-Hungarian Empire. Because so much of the fighting took place in the snows of the foothills of the Alps, the Italian front became known as the White War.  

The White War by Mark Thompson

The Italian Front also inspired Ernest Hemingway’s novel, A Farewell to Arms. 

As Angus Robertson pointed out in his Sunday Herald article, 24th October 2017 marks the 100th anniversary of the start of the 12th Battle of the Isonzo, when, after more than three weeks, Austro-Hungarian troops broke through the Italian defences. The previous eleven battles had been indecisive. The fighting in the White War resulted in huge loss of life, with more than a million casualties.

Some of the wounded were nursed by Scottish volunteer Red Cross nurse, Henrietta Tayler, (1869-1951). Weeks and months after the Armistice of 1918, she was still caring for prisoners-of-war in Montecchio Maggiore, west of Venice and east of Verona. Her wartime memoir includes the dry comment: ‘Nursing prisoners in tents in the snow was somewhat of a new experience for me.’

She did her very best for them, making sure the dying were comforted and those recovering from injury and illness were nursed, washed, cared for and reassured. Hetty, as her friends and family called her, was a gifted linguist, which was just as well. Her prisoner-patients were of a variety of nationalities: Austrian, Hungarian, Bosnian, Serbian, Czech and more. She made sure to learn as many helpful words in each language as possible.

Her patients conferred and decided to call her Mutter, mother in German. That moved her to tears, especially when they told her that, as prisoners, they hadn’t expected to be treated with such care and kindness. Hetty’s comment on that was simple. A patient was a patient, whatever their nationality, ‘and weakness and misery must always appeal to one wherever found.’

As A & H Tayler, Hetty and her brother Alistair were prolific historians. Before the war, they published The Book of the Duffs, a detailed and entertaining account of the wider family to which they belonged. After the First World War, they researched and wrote numerous books and articles on Scottish history, particularly that of the Jacobite risings of 1715 and 1745.









Revisiting the Jacobites – The History Behind the History

On Thursday 12th October, from 18.30 – 20.00 (doors open 18.15), I’ll be one of a panel addressing different aspects of the 1745 Jacobite Rising at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. I’ll be talking about the women I wrote about in Damn’ Rebel Bitches: The Women of the ’45, Arran Johnston will be talking about the Battle of Prestonpans, about which he’s just published a book, On Gladsmuir Shall the Battle Be, and Professor Robert Dunbar will be talking about Gaelic language and culture and the suppression of those after Culloden. There will be a panel discussion and Q & A with the audience after our brief presentations. It’s sure to be a lively debate, this is such contested history. More information and how to get tickets from the NMS website.





Twenty Years of Damn Rebel Bitches: Event at NTS Culloden

On Saturday 30th September, I’ll be in conversation about Damn’ Rebel Bitches: The Women of the ’45 with my friend and colleague Lin Anderson, founder of the Bloody Scotland crime writing festival and award-winning author of the Rhona MacLeod series.

The event starts at the NTS visitor centre at Culloden at 1.30 pm, doors open 1 pm. Book your ticket here. I understand they’re going fast!






Damn Rebel Bitches: Research Then & Now

When I did my research for Damn’ Rebel Bitches: The Women of the ’45 twenty years ago, that had to be done the hard, albeit very enjoyable way. I’ve just written an article on the subject for Historia, the online magazine of the Historical Writers’ Association, which you can read below.



Damn’ Rebel Bitches: Research Then and Now



Damn’ Rebel Bitches 20th Anniversary

This year I’m celebrating the 20th anniversary of the publication of Damn’ Rebel Bitches: The Women of the ’45.



Writing this book was a labour of love for me. With no Internet to speak of back in 1997, I did the research in the old-fashioned way, travelling to libraries, archives, museums and locations up and down the country, from the Public Record Office in Kew in London through York, Carlisle and Edinburgh to Aberdeen and Inverness.

DRB, as we call it in our house, has had some wonderful plaudits over the years.

‘glitters with eye-catching gems that shed light on everyday 18th century Scottish life.’ Roddy Philipps, Aberdeen Press and Journal.

‘a racily written, well-researched and heart-warming account.’ Elizabeth Sutherland, Scots Magazine.

‘a modern classic.’ The Herald.

‘bold and argumentative … resounds with authority.’ Scotland on Sunday.

‘This book changed my life.’ Young woman at Linlithgow Literary Festival. 

Originally published by Mainstream of Edinburgh, Damn’ Rebel Bitches: The Women of the ’45 is now published by Penguin Random House.  It is available from High Street and online booksellers, including Amazon UK and Amazon US, as is its companion volume, Bare-Arsed Banditti: The Men of the ’45.  



Readers furth of Scotland and the UK might like to know that The Book Depository send books worldwide at no extra cost for postage and packing. All my books are also available worldwide as ebooks from Amazon, Kobo and other online retailers.