Rediscovering Catherine Carswell


A few months ago, as fresh-faced postgraduate students embarking upon our publishing journeys, we were presented with our first assignment: to propose a new title for publication by Merchiston Publishing in 2013. For several years, Merchiston Publishing has been breathing new life into classic Scottish texts and, with this in mind, our co-project manager Nicola began her search for an interesting Scottish author who had fallen into obscurity. When Nicola told us about the remarkable Glaswegian author Catherine Carswell, we all agreed that she was exactly the kind of author Merchiston Publishing were looking for, and we gladly accepted the challenge of republishing her most neglected novel. One of our most important aims throughout this project has been to introduce Catherine Carswell and her writing to a new audience in the hope that she will someday receive the attention and celebration she deserves.

You can imagine our excitement when we discovered that the National Library of Scotland were also attempting to raise awareness of forgotten female Scottish writers in honour of Women’s History Month. We were delighted when they invited us along to a talk entitled ‘Very Private Papers: Scottish Women’s Lives in the NLS’ on the 19th of March. This talk really opened our eyes to the diversity of interesting, powerful, controversial, brave and inspiring Scottish women whose written records have found their home at the NLS. We lingered behind after the talk, distributing our promotional materials and chatting to the other guests about our project, and we were touched by the enthusiasm they expressed. The vast majority confessed that they had never heard of Catherine Carswell before, but all seemed intrigued by our brief accounts of her remarkable life and eager to find out more. We left the NLS feeling thrilled with our success in introducing Carswell to a group of potential new readers.

But why stop there? We want to help as many people to discover Catherine Carswell as possible. So below we have compiled our five favourite facts about this fascinating figure who seems to have gotten lost in history.

  1. Carswell studied at both the Conservatory of Music in Frankfurt and Glasgow University – but she was never awarded a degree, as women were not formally admitted to the university at this time.
  2. Prior to becoming a novelist and biographer, Carswell made a career for herself as a journalist working in both Glasgow and London in the early twentieth century.
  3. Carswell made legal history in 1908 when her first marriage (to Sir Walter Raleigh’s brother-in-law Herbert Jackson) was annulled after she succeeded in proving that he was insane at the time of their marriage. It is alleged that he attempted to kill her when she announced that she was pregnant.
  4. A firm friend of D.H. Lawrence, Carswell was fired from her position as literary and drama critic at the Glasgow Herald when she wrote a glowing review of Lawrence’s The Rainbow. She made sure the review was included in the papers by putting it directly to the printers!
  5. Carswell is perhaps best known for her unsentimental biography of Scotland’s literary hero Robert Burns, which sparked sermons in Glasgow Cathedral. Following its publication, Carswell received a bullet in the post accompanied by a note asking her to make the world ‘a cleaner place’.

If you are as intrigued by this incredible author as we are, click here to find out more.


Napier Degree Show 2013

The Camomile at the Napier Degree Show 2013
We’ve had a busy month trying to get production on The Camomile finished! Furthermore, the Edinburgh Napier School of Arts and Creative Industries Degree Show took place at the end of May, for which we had to prepare some materials for display.
With two boards to cover, we decided to confirm the results of our previous cover competition. We blew up three of the covers and asked people to vote for their favourite using their business card. Alongside we had the AI sheet and some information on the author. We played the podcast recorded with Dr. Margery Palmer McCulloch on a nearby computer, which you can see online here.
Lastly, of course, we made more of our tea cups for visitors to take away!

Coming Soon … The Camomile Podcast

On a cold morning last week, before spring teased us with its arrival, some of The Camomile’s team members set off in Ellen Carstairs’ footsteps around Glasgow. Passages from the novel took us around the centre of Glasgow where our protagonist used to wander and to the West End where she rented a room just off Byres Road. The sky remained clear as we filmed clips of contemporary Glasgow street scenes, to juxtapose with early twentieth-century images of the city.

Dr. Margery Palmer McCulloch, an expert in Scottish women’s literature from the University of Glasgow, kindly agreed to speak to us about Catherine Carswell’s life and writing. Her interview provided some real insight into the book and her naturalness and ease in front of the camera even surpassed our own skills behind it. Many thanks for your help, Margery.

The podcast is undergoing some final edits and will go live soon.

Watch this space.

London Book Fair Preview

LBF2013The London Book Fair 2013 is fast approaching and everyone here at The Camomile from Edinburgh Napier University is getting ready.

Pairing with Publishing Scotland, we are going to be showcased from 15-17 April at Earls Court from our collective stand H350 amongst many successful Scottish companies.

This will be the base (H350) for Publishing Scotland, BookSource and Stirling University, as well as member publishers: Black & White Publishing, Cargo Publishing, Dunedin Academic Press, Floris Books, Freight Books, Luath Press, Moonlight Publishing, Sandstone Press, Saraband, Waverley Books and Whittles Publishing.

For more information on our colleagues at Publishing Scotland, visit their website. And keep checking in on Twitter for our live LBF2013 updates!

– The Team

Colours of The Camomile

Soon to be Teacups!The paper has arrived!

Our coloured printing paper is here and is in transition from being beautiful coloured paper to beautiful paper teacups.

Once we have completed the teacups, they are making their way to the London Book Fair where those attending can receive these as handouts.

Stay tuned to see a sneak peek of our promotional material next week…

– The Team 


It is a truth universally acknowledged that a publisher in possession of a good book must be in want of a beautiful cover…

As work on The Camomile progresses, the quest for a beautiful book has occupied much of our team’s attention over the past few weeks – what does the term ‘beautiful book’ mean?

For the editorial team, the answer is relatively simple – it means a clear, consistent, well-presented text that is free from typos. Thus, over the last couple of months the team has busied itself with the intensive sub-editing, copy-editing and proofreading of The Camomile. Another key aspect to making the text accessible has been the decision to create a glossary of foreign and archaic terms, which the team have compiled themselves.

The production team’s definition of a beautiful book is perhaps more conventional. For the past few weeks they’ve been concerned with the laborious task of working both the intricate internal pages and, perhaps most crucially, ensuring the cover is as aesthetically pleasing as possible.

In a similar vein, the marketing team has been working on an eye-catching advertising campaign to represent our beautiful book. A focal point of this campaign has been the collaboration with the Glasgow-based tea company, Brewhaha, who have kindly provided chamomile teabags to hand out with our teacup-shaped flyers.

The task of the rights and finance department is particularly challenging, as their job is to balance our limited budget with the concept of a beautiful book. They have liaised with many printers in order to determine the most economical means to realise our beautiful vision.

Therefore we are all sensible of the warmest gratitude towards all of the beautiful people on our team who have been the means of publishing our special edition of The Camomile.


Do you think these are beautiful books?