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A lot of people assume that Fiona is a very old Scottish name, but the first known Scottish Fiona is from the 1890s: Fiona Macleod, the enormously popular novelist of Scotland's Celtic Revival movement. But when she suddenly stopped writing in 2005...and there turned out to be far more surprises about Fiona Macleod than the novelty of her name. Writer and performer Harry Josie Giles and PhD researcher Moll Callaway-Heaton consider the first Scottish Fiona.
This is part one of a pair of episodes about the name Fiona; part two will explore the etymology of the name and similar ones in various languages, and examine the first appearance of Fiona in literature, which comes with its own cocktail of complication.
Elizabeth Sharp’s biography of Fiona Macleod and William Sharp is available on archive.org.
Here’s a short biography of William Sharp.
Archive of William Sharp and Fiona Macleod’s letters.
Josie’s Twitter thread about Fiona.
A potboiler “was a stone heated in a fire and dropped into a pot of liquid in order to warm it.”
Apparently Fionas are “courageous and fearless, able to fight great battles on behalf of worthy causes. These personalities will not tolerate injustice. They are compassionate people with a strong sensitivity to others.”
The boat Fiona.
Like Tiffany, what’s a name that sounds new but isn’t? Kevin! And French filmmaker Kevin Farfournoux is making a documentary about it.
Otherlusionists: Josie talked about adding queer vocabulary to the Scots language in Many Ways at Once. Part of Alter Ego is about literary pseudonyms. Open Me part 1 and part 2 are about letter-writing, and In Your Hand is about handwriting.
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The Allusionist live show Your Name Here is happening in Toronto 11 December 2022
💫 theallusionist.org/events 💫
The Allusionist live show Your Name Here is happening in Toronto 11 December 2022 💫 theallusionist.org/events 💫
YOUR RANDOMLY SELECTED WORD FROM THE DICTIONARY:
celsitude, noun: loftiness.
Harry Josie Giles is a writer and performer whose verse novel Deep Wheel Orcadia just won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction book of the year! Find their work at harryjosephine.com and they are raising funds for trans healthcare costs.
Moll Heaton-Callaway is a scholar of book history and gender identity and has written a PhD thesis about Fiona Macleod and William Sharp.
Thanks to Anne Pond from the National Maritime Museum in Cornwall for information about the boat(s) named Fiona.
This episode was produced by me, Helen Zaltzman, with editorial assistance from Martin Austwick who also provides the original Allusionist music. Download his songs at palebirdmusic.com and listen to his podcasts Song By Song and Neutrino Watch.
Find the Allusionist at facebook.com/allusionistshow, youtube.com/allusionistshow, instagram.com/allusionistshow, and twitter.com/allusionistshow and twitter.com/helenzaltzman while those are still extant.
Back in two weeks with the second half of our Fiona pairing - HZ.
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