School looks to future with history podcasts
FORMER classmates of Dame Muriel Spark will be able to share their memories of the great author on podcasts in an innovative project to record the history of her old school.
The James Gillespie's Trust is planning to record pupil recollections on tape, as well as of those of Marchmont and Bruntsfield residents past and present for pupil and public access at a new school library.
Trustees hope to commission an oral historian to capture first-hand recollections of the area's past.
Memories would be stored electronically for access in the school's library and via podcasts on the internet.
The trust is now waiting to see if a bid for lottery funding has been successful, but members will press ahead with a fundraising drive to secure the 50,000 needed for the two-year project in any case.
Trust chairman Jeremy Hughes said the project would be fascinating for people young and old.
"It is an ever-changing landscape, and oral history is the ideal way to reflect that. We'll be able to link-up people in the community and further afield who have wonderful memories and archive them. It's presenting history in an unbiased way."
He added: "We would like to include pupils' stories through podcasts on the website. I know are still people from the class of 1938 alive who meet up, so it is definitely a motivation to interview people, including those who remember Muriel Spark."
A 5000 lottery-backed feasibility study into developing a new library is now underway at Gillespie's, which is thought to be one of only three comprehensive schools in Scotland with its own charitable trust.
One idea under consideration is naming the new library after Dame Muriel, the Prime of Miss Jean Brodie author who died in April aged 88. One of her teachers at the school, which used to be privately run, is believed to have been the inspiration for Jean Brodie.
Frances Benton is a parent of a former pupil who has agreed to become the trust's marketing and fundraising consultant.
She said: "We have never had a history project of this kind based on this area of the town before.
"If it goes according to plan, we will appoint an oral historian to record anything up to six to eight hours of tape on 12 to 15 lives in depth.
"State of the art technology will be used and the stories will be logged in a new oral history library where people will be able to go in and listen to stories and see illustrative work."
Marchmont councillor Marilyne MacLaren said: "I have constituents who remember the milk cart going around the area and the sounds and smells of days gone by.
"It is these kind of memories which will be gone forever unless they are recorded in some way."
Anyone who can help with the oral history project can contact Frances Benton on 07711 031567 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
City's grand dame of literature
EDINBURGH writer Dame Muriel Spark, pictured, died in April aged 88.
She wrote more than 20 novels, but was best-known for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which was turned into an Oscar-winning film starring Maggie Smith.
Following the success of the 1962 book, she moved to Italy, spending 27 years in the Tuscan village of Civitella della Chiana,
yet she retained the accent of her birth and youth in Edinburgh.
She attended James Gillespie's High School for Girls, as it was then, where a teacher proved to be a formative influence and the model for Dame Muriel's most famous creation of all, Miss Jean Brodie.
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