Violet Jacob

1 September 1863 Died: 9 September 1946


Novelist, poet and songwriter, Violet Jacob was born Violet Augusta Mary Frederica Kennedy-Erskine, the daughter of William Henry Kennedy-Erskine of Dun, Forfarshire, a Captain in the 17th Lancers and Catherine Jones, the only daughter of William Jones of Henllys, Carmarthenshire.

Her native area of Montrose was the setting for much of her fiction. She married Arthur Otway Jacob in 1894, an Irish Major in the British Army, and accompanied him to India where he was serving. Her book Diaries and letters from India 1895-1900 is about their stay in the Central Indian town of Mhow. The couple had one son, Harry, born in 1895, who died as a soldier at the battle of the Somme in 1916. Arthur died in 1936, and Violet returned to live at Kirriemuir, in Angus.

In her poetry, Violet Jacob was associated with Scots revivalists like Marion Angus, Alexander Gray and Lewis Spence in the Scottish Renaissance, which drew its inspiration from early Scots poets such as Robert Henryson and William Dunbar, rather than from Robert Burns. She is commemorated in Makars' Court, outside the Writers' Museum, Lawnmarket, Edinburgh. Selections for Makars' Court are made by the Writers' Museum, The Saltire Society and The Scottish Poetry Library. Her poetry has been set to music by singer Jim Reid, e.g. 'Hallowe'een' - the poignant song of remembrance, written on hearing the news of the death of her son in The Battle of the Somme, and 'Wild Geese', the latter song known as 'Norland Wind'.

'Flemington' was Violet Jacob's fifth novel and is regarded as her finest. It is a profoundly pacifist work, a significant contribution to literature on many levels. It was described by John Buchan as "the best Scots romance since 'The Master Of Ballantrae'".  Like  Robert Louis Stevenson’s Ballantrae, it's set in the aftermath of the 1745 rebellion amidst much political turmoil.

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