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Wife of Hugh Miller of Cromarty

Elizabeth Sutherland

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Subject: Biography
Demy octavo 208pp
ISBN 1 86232 221 X
Paperback, 9.99

The name and writings of Hugh Miller, born in Cromarty in 1802, have always been and still are well known. Apart from an entry in the Dictionary of National Biography, his wife, Lydia, born in Invemess in 1812, has remained undeservedly in obscurity. Now, in this book, she is at last brought on stage.

Elizabeth Sutherland tells us of Lydia's upbringing and education, and the romantic story of how she fell in love with and married a 'plain working man', as Hugh described himself, with little formal education and apparently few prospects. We are taken through the tragedy of the early death in Cromarty of their first-born child to their move to Edinburgh in 1840 when Hugh was appointed editor of The Witness newspaper. We learn how their deep love and Lydia's active help supported Hugh through the difficult years leading up to the Disruption in the Church of Scotland in 1843, in which he played such an important part, and beyond, while she became a published, though anonymous, author herself. Her life and that of her children after Hugh's suicide in 1856 is described, and we discover how, to the detriment of her own health, she devoted the first six years of her widowhood to editing and publishing posthumously her husband's writings, which otherwise might never have become available to the public.

Elizabeth Sutherland's research has built a skilful picture of a remarkable woman, whose love and strength were a vital ingredient of Hugh's lasting reputation.

Author: Elizabeth Sutherland lives in Ross-shire. She had an Orcadian father and a mother from Fife, which she claims makes her a Pict. After training at Edinburgh University to be a social worker, she married an Episcopalian clergyman and lived in four Scottish parishes. On her late husband's retirement in 1982 she took over Groam House museum in Rosemarkie and was responsible for its becoming a Pictish Centre.