Brilliance of 'World's Child' will come alive at storytelling event
HER literary talents are said to have inspired authors Robert Louis Stevenson and Mark Twain, even though her only work was penned before she turned nine.
Marjory Fleming was hailed as a child prodigy for her poetry and journals, but her talent was never allowed to develop fully as she died just before her ninth birthday after a bout of measles in 1811.
She became an icon of Victorian times, but she is largely forgotten in the present day.
Now the tale of her extraordinary accomplishments is to be resurrected for the opening day of the Scottish Storytelling Festival tomorrow.
Her story is at the heart of a series of New Town tales being told to children at the Charlotte Square headquarters of the Edinburgh World Heritage Trust (EWHT) tomorrow.
Born in Kirkcaldy in 1803, Marjory came to live in Edinburgh at the age of seven, moving in with her aunt and cousin Isabella in North Charlotte Street.
Professional storyteller David Campbell will recapture the Capital's Enlightenment period, when its writers, artists and thinkers dominated the world stage.
Mr Campbell, who co-wrote a play about Marjory Fleming entitled The World's Child, said:
"Marjory was precociously talented, a very high-spirited girl with a robust and mischievous wit. She had such amazing unrealised potential.
"I hope the children will see that keeping a journal is a wonderful way of telling your own story. I think it teaches the worth of words."
Marjory became a publishing sensation after her death, with Victorian songs composed in her honour.
Mark Twain described her as the "world's child".
Robert Louis Stevenson is another key figure about whom Mr Campbell will talk.
"He lived in Heriot Row and it is thought that the wee pond he could see from his bedroom window in Queen Street Gardens provided the inspiration for Treasure Island," said Mr Campbell.
David Hicks, EWHT communications manager
said: "There were so many colourful characters in the New Town, and hearing these stories helps children and parents delve behind the grand facades of the buildings and into the lives of their inhabitants."
One story he and Mr Campbell decided not to tell was that of Jessie King of Stockbridge, the last woman to be hanged in Edinburgh. She was executed in 1889 for murdering babies in her care.
"We thought about telling the story of the 'babyfarmers of Stockbridge', but we decided it was just too gruesome," said Mr Hicks. "It starts in 1888 with the story of two boys playing football with a brown package that bursts open to reveal a dead baby inside."
King and her lover Thomas Pearson would have been paid money by mothers of unwanted or illegitimate babies.
New Town Tales can be heard at 11am and 2pm at 5 Charlotte Square. Tickets are free but booking is recommended.
EWHT is also collaborating with the Scottish Storytelling Festival for two free walking events taking place in the Old Town - Old Town Tales for adults and A Mile of Stories for children.
Sonnet to a Pug
One of Marjory's most famous poems was written about a monkey called Pug:
O lovely O most charming pug
Thy gracefull air & heavenly mug
The beauties of his mind do shine
And every bit is shaped so fine
Your very tail is most devine
Your teeth is whiter then the snow
Yor are a great buck & a bow
Your eyes are of so fine a shape
More like a christains then an ape
His cheeks is like the roses blume
Your hair is like the ravens plume
His noses cast is of the roman
He is a very pretty weomen
I could not get a rhyme for roman
And was oblidged to call it weoman.
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