Tribute to DD

My tribute to Lady Dorothy Dunnett could be expressed in many ways. She introduced me to the world of history, literature, and art at the tender age of 15, without even knowing of me. I never realized that by discovering a single hardcover book in a local bookstore during a warm, high school summer that my life would be changed forever.

In discovering Dorothy's novels, the first one being Race of Scorpions (3rd volume in the House of Niccolò), I tumbled upon the basic foundations which would become my life-long passions. Through the world of Niccolò, and the world of Dorothy's mind-boggling penmanship, I became learned in history and literature, and began writing my own stories and researching history vehemently.

Yet my true tribute to her person comes in the form of her mentorship. For years, merely through her books and the themes and characters of her books, I perceived her as my mentor. Coming from a troubled past, Dorothy's works gave me something I could hold onto and be inspired by during a time of great confusion and rebellion. Her books taught me things no elder in my life had been present to teach me. Her writing guided me towards a positive life, full of goals and dreams, and a very real love of learning. I considered her a distant mother, a person to be looked up to, and I desired to follow in her footsteps in the way that she made life so full of accomplishment and passion and friendship. She made me wonder about things I never would have previously noticed. She filled my heart with curiosity and passion.

By the time I was twenty, I got my chance to meet my mysterious mentor in person. Through corresponding letters, I had been briefly introduced to her as a person, and experienced on a very minimal scale the joy that was Dorothy. When I drove down to Dayton, Ohio, for the September 2000 book signing, I got more than I ever expected. Meeting Dorothy in person meant the world. It was a dream come true, and it did everything to solidify my idea of her as my mentor. In person, she made me feel like a daughter or a long-lost friend, and gave me great confirmation that I was on the right path in life. Meeting Dorothy seemed destined. I realized in those moments that I had picked the absolute best person in the world to stand as my mentor.

She knew I considered her a mentor. She never made a big fuss about it; typical Dorothy-style, she was humbly flattered by it and turned the subject back to myself. She felt happy that she had affected my life so positively. The reality is, I never really needed her to know she was a mentor, and I never had to meet her in person for her to be a mentor. Through words alone, and a talent to write about life in a way I'd never experienced, she could do anything she so desired and had become an inspirational, universal entity. I know she would have been plenty happy without knowing her books had inspired me and so many others to write, to do art, research history, and to love life; one way or another, she was bound to inspire people through her mere existence.

All that matters in the end is that I know I wouldn't be the same person if I hadn't gone book shopping that warm summer day and found that singularly fascinating hardcover book sitting alone on a shelf, waiting to be read. I never knew one book could so change my life, much as I didn't know one person could so change my life. Now I know.

Debbie Smith
Auburn Hills, MI USA