The blog of photographer and musician, Kim Ayres

Maggie Craig, Bare-Arsed Banditti, and The Mad Hatter

"OK, That's the top hat and the polka dot material to make a floppy bow tie bought from eBay for a couple of quid. It's a good start!"

Sorting out a costume for Maggie Craig for the Authors as Characters project I was doing for Wigtown Book Festival turned out to be one of the easier tasks for me as she found, bought or made all of the pieces herself.

Maggie is a Scottish author who writes richly woven tales set in different periods of Scottish History. Last night I finished reading my signed copy of Bare-Arsed Banditti: The Men of The ’45, which is all about the Jacobite uprising of 1745 in Scotland.

It’s not a novel (although Maggie does write those too), but a detailed look at the lives of the people who took up arms in support of Bonnie Prince Charlie and his claim to the throne against the ruling George II.

Nor is it some dull academic historical text. Meticulously researched and beautifully written, not only does she overturn many of the popular assumptions (that it was purely the Scots against the English, or an entirely Catholic cause, for example), but it brings to life the very real people involved.

Much is taken from contemporary sources and first hand accounts, and what leaps out of the pages is the absolute humanness of those taking part. These are not tales of heroes and villains (although there some who display such characteristics), but of people like you and me. Some have strong convictions, some have no choice, and everyone experiences the same emotions we all do – fear, hope, love, anxiety. They all come across as people you know – your brother, your uncle, the lad you sat next to in school.

It’s been a wonderful read, and I know I now have to get hold of a copy of Damn' Rebel Bitches: The Women of the '45, which was written first - Bare-Arsed Banditti came after and is a companion piece, although you don’t have to read them in order.

On the day of the photo shoot itself, it was dull, wet and miserable. It took place in a disused shop and I added in the background afterwards. At the time I hadn’t read any of Maggie’s work, but in person she is as warm, intelligent and unpretentious as you would expect, with a knowing twinkle in her eye, and I think some of this comes out in the final photo.

Maggie Craig as The Mad Hatter


Pat said...

Maggie makes a perfect Mad Hatter.

Anonymous said...

Cool photograph. If the script on her mad hat says "In this style 10/6", can you explain the meaning?

Maggie Craig said...

I can answer that one. In the book of Alice in Wonderland, the original drawings show that exact label on the hat, as it might have done in the mad hatter's shop. I think hatters were popularly supposed to go mad because of ingesting a substance used in their preparation of the material of hats.

Thanks Kim for your blogpost and lovely review. Much appreciated!

Maggie Craig said...

PS: I've just signed up as the 1,000th follower of your blog. That's pretty cool!

Anne Stenhouse said...

I loved the photo when I saw it last year and it's standing the test of time. Great review. Anne Stenhouse

Guyana-Gyal said...

I'll have to get these books for my mother, she's mad about history. Then I'll read them, of course!

Haha, Pat's right, Maggie does make a perfect Mad Hatter.

Jonathan Chant said...

Sounds like a great read. Awesome portrait, too.

Kim Ayres said...

Pat - doesn't she just? :)

Allen - as Maggie says above, it appears on all the drawings of The Mad Hatter. It's actually a price tag. 10/6 refers to 10 shillings and sixpence - in pre-decimalised British currency, money was divided into pounds, shillings and pence, with 20 shillings to the pound and 12 pence to the shilling - making 240 pence to the pound - are you keeping up? So in old money, it would have been 126 pence, or in modern money, 55 pence - just under a dollar.

Maggie - thank you so much for taking the time to read, comment and sign up as a follower! It's greatly appreciated :)

Anne - thank you - and welcome to my blog :)

Guyana-Gyal - I'm sure you and your mum will really enjoy them :)

Jonathan - thank you :)

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