I met Dorothy Dunnett twice, at the 2000 conferences in Edinburgh and Philadelphia, and corresponded with her several times over the course of the last few years. I had wanted to write her for years, since 1975 when I first picked up The Ringed Castle in the library.
I never got up the nerve till 1997. How happy I am to have dared.
Not only did she write me back the most wonderful long letter, she encouraged me to respond. As I told her then she was responsible for my small career as a writer. She opened my eyes to whole areas of history about which I knew nothing. She kept me in her spell for hours and days on end. She maintained me through all kinds of highs and lows. She made me cry; she made me laugh; she made me want to know more.
I resurrected my rusty French and schoolgirl Latin so I could more fully understand her references.
I looked up Wyatt's sonnets. And Chaucer's tales.
I opened maps. I wrote a translation guide.
And then I put together a Lymond/Niccolo family tree.
I was obsessed.
Her influence did not end there. Through her I learned about the internet Dunnett discussion lists. I have made more friends through these lists, as we endlessly dissect every nuance, than ever I made in real life. And I have turned many of these virtual friends into the real sort through the conferences and "spits" we have held to discuss Dunnett. I am immeasurably grateful to her for this. I dared to act not once but twice in The Nikado, something my own children looked upon with a kind of horrified awe.
Dorothy's doing: she took me right out of myself!
She lives on in all the pages of all her books, but most of all in our hearts: hers was an evergreen flourish. In this season of Thanksgiving I give thanks for her.
Nancy Wright, USA