Excuse my dust: Introduction

Excuse my dust was Dorothy Parker's epitaph and the title of our course in the winter of 2011. Was Dorothy referring to her neglected housework? Or, self –effacingly, to her mortal remains and literary reputation?

We added a sub-title for our class of Re-discovering Scottish women writers and explained:

This course emerged from a members' discussion at a meeting of the Lothian Women's Forum of the Workers' Educational Association. One of the Forum members had been reading work by Margaret Oliphant and wondered why she was all but unknown. Another member had been shocked by the lack of women writers in the UNESCO City of Literature's map.

Scottish Pen puts it this way in its list of 100 women writers:

" Death does not level writers. It elevates or reduces. In Scotland gender, more than worth, determines memorial tribute..(.but these).. are writers of stature of whom Scotland should be vocally and gloriously proud."

We visited the Scottish Poetry Library, the National Library of Scotland for an inspiring session with the manuscripts of some of 'our' writers and met with Nancy Sommerville of the Shore Poets to tell us of the hassles facing today's writers.

Above all we shared our knowledge and enthusiasm as we read and discussed some amazing writers.