Teacher and author;
Born: June 30, 1922; Died: June 19, 2012.
Doris Davidson, who has died aged 89, was a Scottish novelist who only achieved literary success after she became a pensioner.
At one point she was so disheartened she threatened to tear up everything she had ever written. Encouraged by her daughter, she ploughed on in a struggle worthy of one the plots in her popular family sagas.
And even once she did have the satisfaction of seeing her work published, she faced further setback when tastes changed and her style of writing was no longer required, a victim of the fashion for chick lit.
It was to be several more years before she was rediscovered – by a different publisher and a new generations of readers who revelled in her romantic storytelling.
The daughter of master butcher Robert Forsyth and his wife May, she was born in Aberdeen's Rosemount Viaduct and started her education, aged four, at the city's Demonstration School, a training ground for teachers.
She later moved to Woodside School but the start of her secondary education at Rosemount Intermediate School was delayed when her father was killed in a motorbike accident on his way to work.
Her mother was left to raise two daughters, Doris, then 12, and her two-year-old sister, Bertha, and began taking in lodgers to make ends meet. Doris, a bright child, won a bursary to stay on at school beyond 14 and became Dux but there was still no real indication of her literary talents.
Leaving school at 15 she started work as an office girl in a small wholesale confectioner's, supplementing her meagre wage by working at a dog track on Saturday afternoons. Her next job was as a junior clerkess with Van der Bergh and Jurgens, the producers of Stork margarine, a post that exempted her from joining the Women's Royal Naval Service, for which she volunteered during the Second World War, as she was deemed to be involved in the distribution of food.
She married for the first time in 1942, having met her husband, Sandy, a Merchant Navy officer, while waiting at a bus stop. The pair got chatting, began going out twice a week and wed later that year, a decision that necessitated her breaking off her relationship with one of her mother's lodgers, apprentice mechanic Jimmy Davidson.
He was away serving his country and, though he hadn't asked her to wait for him, they had been exchanging affectionate letters. She let him down with a Dear John letter but it would not be the end of their story.
She had a daughter with Sandy but their marriage disintegrated and she discovered she still had feelings for Jimmy, who would come back to visit her family from time to time. Not yet divorced but in love with another man, she was forbidden to see Jimmy and so the romance failed to flourish.
It was only years later, and long after her divorce in 1947, that fate brought the two of them together again. She spotted him driving past as she returned to work one afternoon in the summer of 1953. He happened to glance in his rear view mirror and, convinced he had recognised her, swiftly reversed to catch her up. They were married in six months.
Several years passed, she had a son and was working part-time in RS McColl when her life took a major change in direction. A customer, who was also an old friend, told her of her plans to become a teacher. She was taking evening classes, preparing for teacher training and told Davidson that, as a former Dux, she was wasting her brain serving sweeties. The next day she found out about the entrance requirements and was soon attending Commercial College, studying for the qualifications, including three Highers, needed to get into teacher training college.
She passed them in a year and began at Aberdeen College of Education in 1963, aged 41. She graduated with merit when she was 45 and taught at Aberdeen's Smithfield Primary before moving to Hazlehead Primary School, where she remained until retiring in 1982.
She had tried her hand at writing in the 1960s and had a couple of short stories published but received so many rejection letters she had given up, vowing to try again in retirement.
The first book she completed, Time Shall Reap, was rejected time and again, as were the next two: the whodunit Jam and Jeopardy and family saga Brow Of The Gallowgate.
They ended up in boxes under the bed and, disheartened, she threatened to rip up all her work.
It was only after her daughter heard that Collins was looking for new authors, that she sent Brow Of The Gallowgate off again. Her luck turned and it was accepted. Published in 1990, it was followed by another saga, The Road to Rowanbrae, and, finally, Time Shall Reap.
Writing in her multi-storey flat in Aberdeen's Hazlehead, she dashed off several more, including Waters Of The Heart, The Three Kings, The Girl With The Creel and House of Lyall, gaining a faithful fan base in the north-east. But with the new millennium came a change in tastes and styles of writing. Her publisher did not want any more of her work.
Some time later, when Ottakers asked her to write the foreword for a local interest book, she aroused the attention of manager Vicky Dawson, now an independent bookseller, who introduced her to publisher Birlinn. It bought all the rights and discovered she had several more manuscripts stashed away.
The new ones were published and the old ones were given a different cover treatment and re-issued. She found a whole new readership among a range of ages and hundreds would turn out to signings. Her work, while initially important to her native area, had become significant in Scottish terms. One title was even published in Greek.
She wrote her autobiography, A Gift From The Gallowgate, published in 2004, produced Cousins At War, saw Jam and Jeopardy finally go into print in 2006 and followed it with Monday Girl and The Nickum. Her last, Duplicity, was published in 2009.
Her one regret, she said, was that she hadn't started writing sooner.
Widowed last October, she is survived by her daughter Sheila, son Alan, grandson Matthew and her sister Bertha.
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