Doris Davidson

The teacher and writer persevered with her stories and eventually enjoyed success

Alison Shaw

She once had so many rejection letters she considered either papering the toilet with them or giving up writing. But when Doris Davidson, who has died at the age of 89, did finally manage to break into print big time, the former teacher became one of the country's best-loved romantic novelists, her sagas appealing to generations of readers far beyond the shores of her native Scotland.

Her working life began as an office girl in a small wholesale confectioners. By the time war broke out, she had become close to one of her mother's lodgers, apprentice mechanic Jimmy Davidson, and after he was called up they kept in touch.

In 1942, however, she met her first husband, Sandy, a Merchant Navy officer at a bus stop. She and Sandy had a daughter, Sheila, but the marriage foundered. After her divorce in 1947, she met her old love while walking to work in June 1953. They married that December and their son, Alan, was born in 1956.

A friend who was taking evening classes and planning to train as a teacher inspired her to do the same. She graduated with merit when she was 45 and taught at Aberdeen's Smithfield Primary before moving to Hazlehead Primary where she remained until retiring in 1982. It was only then that she began writing seriously.

In the late 1960s she had attended a creative writing class, joined a writers' circle and had a couple of short stories published. But the number of rejection letters she received, coupled with the amount of time- consuming preparation teaching required, prompted her to give up.

On retirement, she gave it another go. Her first two books were rejected and she did not even send out her third, believing it to be too autobiographical. The next, Brow of the Gallowgate, a family saga, was also rejected.

Then, encouraged by her daughter who had heard Collins was looking for new authors, she sent it off again. It was published in 1990. The Road to Rowanbrae, another family saga followed in 1991 with Time Shall Reap published two years later.

She produced a clutch of other titles, gaining a faithful fan base, until her publisher announced that tastes and styles had changed and they no longer wanted any more of her books.

Around the turn of the century, she was rediscovered by bookseller Vicky Dawson, then manager of Ottakar's in Aberdeen, and picked up by the Edinburgh publishing house Birlinn. The old books were re-jacketed and new ones published, reaching a new, multi-generational readership. While once a much-loved north-east author she was now considered a great Scottish novelist and continued writing, well into her eighties, on a laptop in her multi-storey flat.

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Alison Shaw

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