Should Authors Be Shadows Or Stars?

I remember the day I first searched for Dorothy Dunnett online. Not Googled, note, for these were the days before the G-verb, when trawling the web involved AOL, a serious porn filter and a maddening dial-up tone. Throughout my mid teens Dunnett’s two epic series of historical fiction,The Lymond Chronicles and The House of Niccolò, had dominated my reading life (and indeed the rare bits of it not spent buried in a book); but even though ‘DD’ had become shorthand to my family and friends as a cover-all excuse for my absenteeism or increasingly, bizarrely cod-medieval speech, I never considered trying to uncover the woman behind the text. She was the books, she was the characters, she was the spirit and the century they evinced; she was a divine cipher, and I liked her that way.

But in time my memories of DD collided with an idle online hour, and I finally, virtually ‘met’ the Scottish civil servant responsible for creating the two men I most loved in my love (and still, in all honesty, do, with deep condolences to my husband). Dunnett was, mercifully, no disappointment; the interviews and profiles evoked exactly the sort of humane, intelligent, eclectic and witty woman suggested by her novels.

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