Donald Smith - Scott: Our Convivial Host

It’s a great pleasure to introduce Donald Smith as todays’ speaker. (I’m standing in as Chair by the way for Iain Torrance, who unfortunately can’t be with us this evening.) Donald is a storyteller, author, and educationalist. As Director of The Netherbow Arts Centre from 1982, and founding Director of the Scottish Storytelling Centre from 2003-2014, he has been in the thick of cultural and social developments in Scotland, and beyond, over three decades. Donald was born in Glasgow of Irish parents. He holds a first class honours degree in English and Classical Greek, and was awarded a Ph.D. in the School of Celtic and Scottish Studies of Edinburgh University in 1982 (where he tells me his eyes were first opened to Scott by his supervisor Jack McQueen, who I understand has sadly recently died, and no doubt will be fondly remembered by many others). Donald has produced, adapted or directed over eighty plays and published a series of books, including two novels, The English Spy (2007) and Between Ourselves (2009). More recent publications include a book about Scottish independence called Freedom and Faith (2013), a Pilgrim Guide to Scotland (2015), one further novel Flora McIvor (2017), and Wee Folk Tales (in Scots) in 2018. Currently Donald is Director of Edinburgh’s Celtic Summer School and a Visiting Professor at Edinburgh Napier University; he is also Director of the forthcoming International Storytelling Festival taking place in October.

Today’s topic has a familiar ring, and there many accounts suggesting what an excellent host and companion the laird of Abbotsford was. The multifariousness of Scott’s activities is something this Club feeds on with relish; yet at the same time one sometimes wonders how he managed to find space to do all these things. One explanation no doubts lies in the fact that he never lost time twiddling his thumbs; an attribute which is undoubtedly shared by today’s speaker: Donald Smith.

Watch the video here: