Tea bags and flyers

Welcome to the world of Catherine Carswell’s The Camomile, brought to you by the MSc Publishing students of Edinburgh Napier University on behalf of Merchiston Publishing.

This website details the hard work that everyone is putting forth to create a new edition of Carswell’s compelling work.

Our team is dedicated to producing a high quality product for the public, and hope that by early August 2013 we will have a beautiful book to show for it.


Having spent three years completing her musical education in Germany, Ellen Carstairs is back in her hometown of Glasgow, struggling to find independence from her family while paving her way in the world.

The Camomile reveals all of Ellen’s intimate musings, and she dazzles the reader with her wit in her perceptive and often humorous depiction of early twentieth-century Glasgow. As the story progresses, Ellen is confronted with a dilemma faced by every woman, no matter the decade: a dream career, her friends, or romance…? Can she have it all?


Although utterly controversial in her own time Catherine Carswell is one of Scotland’s lesser known female writers. Her work shows a considerable sense of humour and empathy, and through it she consistently explores both gender inequality and the role of the artist in Scotland.

Carswell was born Catherine MacFarlane in Glasgow, in 1879, to a merchant family with a strong evangelical background. She studied at both the Conservatory of Music in Frankfurt and at Glasgow University, although she was never awarded a degree as women were not formally admitted to the university at that time. She married Sir Walter Raleigh’s brother-in-law, Herbert Jackson, in 1904, and made legal history when the marriage was annulled in 1908 after she succeeded in proving that her husband was insane. Her daughter, Diana, was born in 1905, but died of pneumonia in 1913. Carswell worked as a journalist in Glasgow and London and began a strong friendship with D.H Lawrence. The pair exchanged a lengthy correspondence and with Lawrence’s encouragement, Carswell completed her first novel Open the Door! which won the Melrose Prize when it was published in 1920. She is perhaps best known for her unsentimental biography of Robert Burns which was published amidst great controversy in 1930, sparking sermons in Glasgow Cathedral. Shortly thereafter, Carswell received a bullet in the post, with an accompanying note asking her to make the world ‘a cleaner place’. Carswell married fellow journalist Donald Carswell in 1915 and had one son, John. She went on to write biographies of D.H. Lawrence and Boccaccio and fragments of her own autobiography, which were edited by her son and published as Lying Awake after her death. She died in Oxford in 1946, aged 66.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s