Jessie Kesson

Scottish Novelist
Other names: 
Jessie Grant McDonald (Kesson)
Born 28 October 1916 died 26 September 1994

Jessie Grant McDonald was born illegitimate in the Workhouse at Inverness. They moved to Elgin where they lived in poverty. When her mother became ill Jessie then 8 years old was removed and placed in an orphanage called Proctors House in Kirkton of Skene, Aberdeenshire.

She attended Skene School until the age of 16, she showed great promise then as a writer and this was recognised and encouraged by the Head Teacher. Jessie wanted to go to Aberdeen University to continue her education. The trustees of the orphanage thought an education would be a waste and said she would do better to work in Domestic Service.

Jessie went into service in 1932 but sadly suffered a nervous breakdown and sent to a hospital near Inverness. As part of her recuperation she worked in a croft at Abriachan near Loch Ness. It was here that whe met Johnnie Kesson and later married in 1934. She became a cottar's wife and worked in various crofts around North East Scotland.

One day whilst travelling on a train she met the Scottish author Nan Shepherd who encouraged her to continue with her writing. Jessie wrote articles for the Scots Magazine and Plays for BBC Aberdeen.

In 1947 she moved to London, initially by herself to find work and find a place to live before her husband and two children could join her. She combined writing novels and writing radio plays with other jobs from Artist Model, cinema cleaner and a Social Worker. Later Jessie went onto produce Woman's Hour. It was around this time she wrote her best known novels, The White Bird Passes in 1958, Glitter of Mica 1963, Another Time, Another Place 1983 and Where the Apple Rippens 1985. Much of her novels were influenced by her own life and experiences. Some were made into very successful films.

She was awarded an honourary DLitt in 1987 from Aberdeen University.

Earlier this year 2013 there has been a street named to commemorate Jessie Kesson at a new housing develpment at Skene, Aberdeenshire.

Jessie Kesson
Kesson Gardens Road Sign
Photograph taken by own camera August 2013. Street Name on new housing estate at Skene, Aberdeenshire to commemorate Jessie Kesson.