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Elspeth Mary Davie (1919 - 1995):

Elspeth Mary Davie née Dryer was a short-story writer and novelist who lived in Belfast from 1946 to 1959. Born in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire on 20 March 1919 she was the daughter of Oliver Dryer, a Church of Scotland minister, and his Canadian wife, Lilian McFarlane. Educated at a dame-school in London and at George Watson's Ladies Academy Edinburgh, she studied English, philosophy and fine arts at Edinburgh University. She did not graduate however but instead took a diploma from the Edinburgh College of Art and became an art teacher in schools in Aberdeen and the borders.

In 1938 she met her future husband George Davie, a noted Scottish philosopher while walking in the boarders. They married in 1944 and following the Second World War moved to Belfast in 1946 so that George could take up the appointment of head of the Department of Moral Philosophy at Queen's University Belfast - a post he held for thirteen years. 1946 was also the year their daughter Anne was born.

In 1951 Elspeth entered a short-story competition run by the Observer newspaper. She had always been interested in writing at school and while she did not win first prize she was runner up to Muriel Spark. Following her success Davie gradually became better known and her stories were accepted by notable magazines. She had four novels published, the first, entitled Providings, was published in 1965. It was followed by Creating a Scene in 1971, Climbers on a Stair in 1978 and lastly, Coming to Light in 1989.

However it was her short stories which brought her critical acclaim and for which she won the Katherine Mansfield Prize in 1978. Davie had five collections of short stories published starting in 1968 with The Spark and Other Stories. The other four collections were entitled The High Tide Talker, The Night of the Funny Hats, A Traveller's Room and Death of a Doctor.

She received the Scottish Arts Council Award for new writing in 1976. An annual award, it was presented to specific authors in recognition of their work.

Elspeth died at Queensbury House Hospital, Edinburgh, on 13 November 1995.

Born: 20 March 1919
Died: 13 November 1995
Linda Greenwood