I am fortunate to have lived for the last 30 years in Wimbledon Village, Southwest London, next to the beautiful Wimbledon Common.
I was born in Portobello, Edinburgh and we moved to Glasgow when I was four. My father was Chaplain of the University of Glasgow and we lived in the middle of the campus.
I grew up in houses full of books, and learned to read before I went to school. My parents gave me gorgeous, inspiring books – RL Stevenson’s A Child’s Garden of Verses illustrated by the incomparable Brian Wildsmith, Alice in Wonderland, Hans Andersen’s Fairy Tales, George MacDonald’s Fairy Tales, the Narnia books, Little Women and so on. I also loved Elinor Brent Dyer’s Chalet School books and The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge.
I attended Laurel Bank School for Girls for 12 long years, escaping in my final year as an AFS exchange student to sunny California, and graduating from Mission Bay High School, San Diego.
While I was there I had an inspiring art teacher who persuaded me that although I had done no art at school in Scotland, apart from attending Saturday morning classes at CR Mackintosh’s wonderful Glasgow School of Art, I should try and get into an art school and do something creative.
Luckily Grays School of Art, Aberdeen did accept me on a 4-year Diploma in Design and Crafts course (now equivalent to a BA) and I had a happy time there exploring many different areas of art and design before specialising in Graphic Design. I went on to do a postgraduate year at the London College of Printing (now the London College of Communication, part of UAL) studying Advanced Typography. This led me to my first job in publishing at Pitman, I then moved to Faber & Faber, Macmillan, Methuen Children’s Books, BBC Books, Levinson Books and then went freelance, which I have been ever since.
I have always been keen to work on a wide variety of books – so my portfolio ranges from preschool novelty books to a series on every single type of mousetrap you can think of, and everything in-between! I love this variety and the extraordinary cast of people I have collaborated with over the past 30 years.
My partner Emlyn worked in Amsterdam for 9 years, so I managed to get freelance work with several Dutch publishers. It was great experience to design books in another country, for publishers with sometimes very different ideas about illustration and text and what would sell in their market.
Music has always been a big part of my life. I studied piano as a child and sang in a choir at the inspiring Glasgow Arts Centre. When I first moved to London I sang in the Priory Festival Choir, which rehearsed and performed into beautiful Priory Church of St Bartholomew-the-Great in Smithfield. It was here that I met my wonderful partner, Tom Emlyn Williams, a professional singer, and we have been together ever since. I have since sung in various other choirs and I design the programmes for the annual Wimbledon International Music Festival
In 1965 my maternal grandfather built a holiday house on the gorgeous Hebridean island of Iona, where some of his family live. We spent all our holidays there, and I still return to the island every year. My father was a member of the ecumenical Iona Community and my mother (a botanist by training) wrote and illustrated The Flowers of Iona. When the book’s publisher retired, I set up a new publishing company – Isle of Iona Press – to keep the book in print. The profits from sales of this, and greetings cards using screenprint designs of my mother’s, go to support a local housing charity – the Iona Housing Partnership – and the Oban Hospice. I have recently launched another range of postcards using the Flowers of Iona illustrations.
We have had a holiday flat in the beautiful town of St Ives, Cornwall for a few years now. A lovely place to escape to, though we do let it out in the high season when the town is too full of tourists!