Elizabeth Wein & Jess Smith with Gavin Lindsay of the Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust
Join local authors Elizabeth Wein and Jess Smith as they discuss the influence of Perthshire and the traveller community in their works, The Pearl Thief and The Way of the Wanderers with Gavin Lindsay of the Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust
Elizabeth Wein was born in New York, and grew up in England, Jamaica and Pennsylvania. She is married with two children and lives in Perth, Scotland. Elizabeth is a member of the Ninety-Nines, the International Organization of Women Pilots. She was awarded the Scottish Aero Club’s Watson Cup for best student pilot in 2003 and it was her love of flying that partly inspired the idea for her internationally acclaimed novel Code Name Verity. The Pearl Thief is the story of sixteen-year-old Julie Beaufort-Stuart as she returns to her family’s ancestral home in Perthshire for one last summer before the house is sold off following her grandfather’s death. When a respected London archivist goes missing, presumed murdered suspicion quickly falls on the McEwens – highlands travellers who have always been loved by Julie’s family but loathed by the authorities. Julie knows not one of them would do such a thing and is determined to prove everyone wrong. And then she notices the family’s treasure trove of pearls is missing… This beautiful and evocative novel is the story of the irrepressible and unforgettable Julie, set in the year before the Second World War and the events of Code Name Verity. It is also a powerful portrayal of a community under pressure and one girl’s determination for justice.
Jess Smith was brought up as a traveller in Scotland and now lives in Perthshire. She is the author of several books, including her autobiographical trilogy beginning with Jessie’s Journey. As well as being a charismatic singer and storyteller at events throughout the world, Jess is a tireless advocate for travellers and gypsies. In 2011 she secured an official apology from the Church of Scotland for the injustices and discrimination suffered by Scottish travellers over many centuries. The Way of the Wanderers is less a conventional history than a personal pilgrimage through the stories, songs and culture of a people for whom freedom is more important than security and a campfire under the stars is preferable to a warm hearth within stone walls. Settled society has always discriminated against travellers and Jess tells shocking stories of bullying, violence, the enforced break-up of families and separate schooling. But drawing on her own and her family’s experiences, she also captures the magic and drama of days wandering the roads and working the land, and brings to life the travellers’ rich and vibrant traditions.
Gavin Lindsay is the Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust’s Outreach Officer with responsibility for promoting the work of the Trust and delivering our exciting range of events and activities. In addition to coordinating the popular Doors Open Days programme, Gavin is organising Perth and Kinross’s Year of Archaeology in 2017.