Dorothy Dunnett

Other names: 
Maiden name: Halliday
Born 25 August 1923, died 9 November 2001

Dorothy Halliday was the daughter of Evelyn Millard, and Alick Halliday, a mining engineer. She was educated at James Gillespie’s High School, Edinburgh, Edinburgh College of Art and Glasgow School of Art. From 1940 to 1946 she was assistant press officer for Scottish Government Departments and worked for the Board of Trade in Glasgow. In 1946 she married Alistair Dunnett (1908–98), author, playwright and editor of The Scotsman from 1956. They had two children. From 1950 she was a professional portrait painter.

The Game of Kings (1961) was the first title in Dorothy Dunnett’s series of six cult novels about Francis Crawford of Lymond, a 16th-century Scottish soldier of fortune. Another series, set in 15th-century Europe, features Niccolo, an apprentice from Bruges, who becomes a successful Renaissance entrepreneur. These historical novels are meticulously researched and vividly reconstruct place and period.

She also published, as Dorothy Halliday, a series of thrillers. Her involvement with the arts in Scotland included serving as trustee of the National Library of Scotland and director of the Edinburgh Book Festival. She became Lady Dunnett when her husband was knighted in 1995, and was awarded the OBE for services to literature in 1992.

The Biographical Dictionary of Scottish Women
Based on an entry by Margaret Elphinstone
The Dorothy Dunnett archive
The Dorothy Dunnett archive is held at the National Library of Scotland: Acc. 12135, 12136.