Highlands & Islands

Author Jane Duncan's World War II diary entries printed

Jane Duncan. Pic: Courtesy of Millrace
Image caption Jane Duncan hid her frictional work in a linen cupboard

Extracts from a Renton-born author's war-time diary have been included in a re-issue of her best-selling novel.

Jane Duncan, who had close ties with the Highlands, kept her writing secret until her husband fell seriously ill and she approached a publisher.

She made publishing history in 1959 when Macmillan accepted seven of her novels. Duncan died in 1976.

Cheshire-based publisher Millrace will launch the new edition of her novel My Friend Monica on 24 June.

The book was first published in 1960 and its story is set in the countryside south of Glasgow in the late 1940s.

Duncan's service with the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (Waaf) in the Buckinghamshire-based Photographic Intelligence Unit during World War II influenced the novel's story.

Aerial photographs were gathered and studied by the unit in preparation of Allied bombing raids and troop landings.

Brief entries from a diary she kept during the war have been included in the new edition's afterword.

The extracts feature her recollections of a journey by train from Leuchars in Fife in 1941.

'Increasing solemnity'

Duncan wrote: "I came down from Leuchars to London in a dazed condition, by the night train, in the company of half a dozen sailors and drank beer with increasing solemnity all the way from Edinburgh to London.

"Occasionally I told myself that this was the last journey of this sort that I would make. This was the end of irresponsibility - that ruling characteristic of all rankers.

"From now on, I would be 'an officer'."

A policeman's daughter and brought up in the Glasgow area, Duncan's real name was Elizabeth Jane Cameron.

She started writing a series of stories while living in Jamaica.

Duncan wrote in secret and hid her work in a linen cupboard but was driven to seek out a publisher to earn a living when her engineer husband took ill. He died shortly after.

Her My Friends series eventually ran to 19 books. The author also wrote children's books.

In 2010, Millrace launched a reprint of Duncan's first novel My Friends the Miss Boyds.

Duncan was a regular visitor to the Highlands as a child and lived in the Black Isle, near Inverness, from 1959 until her death in 1976.

She is buried at Kirkmichael graveyard.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites