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Historical fiction

Lymond Chronicles

The manuscript for the first book in the Lymond Chronicles, The Game of Kings, was rejected by five British publishers before being published by US publisher Putnam in 1961. It was written in response to her husband’s suggestion that she write something herself, when she complained of having run out of reading material.

The Lymond Chronicles is a series of six novels, set in mid-sixteenth-century Europe and the Mediterranean, which follows the life and career of a Scottish nobleman, Francis Crawford of Lymond, from 1547 through 1558. The series is a suspenseful tale of adventure and romance, filled with action, intense drama, poetry, culture and high comedy. Meticulously researched, the series takes place in a wide variety of locations, including France, the Ottoman Empire, Malta, England, Scotland and Russia. In addition to a compelling cast of original characters, the novels feature many historical figures, often in important roles.

The volumes are as follows:

  1. The Game of Kings (1961)
  2. Queen’s Play (1964)
  3. The Disorderly Knights (1966)
  4. Pawn in Frankincense (1969)
  5. The Ringed Castle (1971)
  6. Checkmate (1975)

The six volumes of the Lymond Chronicles, set in the 16th century, are part of what Dunnett viewed as a larger fourteen-volume work, which includes the eight novels of The House of Niccolò series, set in the 15th century. The House of Niccolò, which was written after the Lymond Chronicles, tells the tale of Lymond’s ancestors in the previous century and includes allusions to events in the Lymond Chronicles. Dunnett recommended that readers begin with the Lymond Chronicles and then read The House of Niccolò.

The House of Niccolò

The House of Niccolò is a series of eight historical novels set in the late-fifteenth-century European Renaissance. The protagonist of the series is Nicholas de Fleury (Niccolò, Nicholas van der Poele, or Claes), a talented boy of uncertain birth who rises to the heights of European merchant banking and international political intrigue. The series shares most of the locations in Dunnett’s earlier series, the Lymond Chronicles, but it extends much further geographically to take in the important urban centres of Bruges, Venice,Florence, Geneva, and the Hanseatic League; Burgundy, Flanders, and Poland; Iceland; the Iberian Peninsula and Madeira; the Black Sea cities of Trebizond and Caffa; Persia; the Mediterranean islands of Cyprus and Rhodes; Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula; andWest Africa and the city of Timbuktu. Nicholas’s progress is intertwined with such historical characters as Anselm Adornes, James III of Scotland and James II of Cyprus.

The volumes are as follows:

  1. Niccolò Rising (1986)
  2. Spring of the Ram (1987)
  3. Race of Scorpions (1989)
  4. Scales of Gold (1991)
  5. The Unicorn Hunt (1993)
  6. To Lie with Lions (1995)
  7. Caprice and Rondo (1997)
  8. Gemini (2000)

As with the Lymond Chronicles, the series features a number of historical persons, many as important characters. Both the historical and fictional characters are, however, taken from a wider variety of occupations and social classes than in the Lymond Chronicles. There are significant differences in narrative approach and writing style between the series, reflecting in part the very different personal journey taken by the central character in each.

King Hereafter

King Hereafter (1982), her long novel set in Orkney and Scotland in the years just before the invasion of England by William the Conqueror, was in Dorothy Dunnett’s eyes her masterpiece.[citation needed] It is about an Earl of Orkney uniting the people of Alba (Scotland) and becoming its King, and is based on the author’s premise that the central character Thorfinn, Earl of Orkney and the historical Macbeth, Scottish King, were one and the same person.

The Dorothy Dunnett Companions

Dunnett helped in the compiling of the The Dorothy Dunnett Companion (1994) and The Dorothy Dunnett Companion II (2002), which were written by Elspeth Morrison. These books provide background information to historical characters and events featured in theLymond Chronicles and The House of Niccolò, as well as explanations of classical allusions and literary and other quotations used in the two series, notes to sources of these citations, and many maps. The second volume, which was written after the Niccolò series was completed, also contains a bibliography of many of the hundreds of primary and secondary sources Dunnett used in her historical research. Dunnett contributed much more to the second volume than the first, directly authoring many of the entries.

The Johnson Johnson series

Main article: Johnson Johnson

This series of mystery novels was written over a long period, starting when she was writing the Lymond Chronicles, with the final book published prior to the first House of Niccolò book. In the Johnson Johnson series, the date of publication is not the same as the order in the series. Each book is set in the time it is written, and some series plotlines were never resolved. Dunnett left a very brief outline sketch of an 8th Johnson novel with her papers.

The Dolly of the titles refers to Johnson Johnson’s yacht.

  1. Dolly & the Bird of Paradise (later retitled Tropical Issue) (1983)
  2. Dolly & the Singing Bird (later retitled Rum Affair) (aka The Photogenic Soprano) (1968)
  3. Dolly & the Cookie Bird (later retitled Ibiza Surprise) (aka Murder in the Round) (1970)
  4. Dolly & the Doctor Bird (later retitled Operation Nassau) (aka Match for a Murderer) (1971)
  5. Dolly & the Starry Bird (later retitled Roman Nights) (aka Murder in Focus) (1973)
  6. Dolly & the Nanny Bird (later retitled Split Code) (1976)
  7. Moroccan Traffic (published in the US as Send a Fax to the Kasbah) (1991)

Other works

The Proving Climb

A contemporary short story, The Proving Climb, set on the Scottish Isle of St. Kilda, was published in the 1973 anthology Scottish Short Stories (Scottish Arts Council, published by Collins, ISBN 0-00-221851-8). It was republished by the Dorothy Dunnett Society and distributed to its members in 2008 with issue 100 of Whispering Gallery.

The Lymond Poetry

She also produced a manuscript The Lymond Poetry, containing her versions and translations of some of the poems that appeared in The Lymond Chronicles. This was finalised after her death by Elspeth Morrison and edited by Richenda Todd (ISBN 978-0141012445 published in 2003 by Penguin).

The Scottish Highlands

Together with her husband, Alastair Dunnett, she wrote the text for the photography book The Scottish Highlands (Photographs: David Patterson), published in 1988.

Source – Wikipedia