Germaine Greer unveils Melville memorial

Germaine Greer unveils the memorial. Pic: Scott Taylor
Germaine Greer unveils the memorial. Pic: Scott Taylor
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A memorial to the first Scottish woman to see her work in print has been unveiled by writer Germaine Greer.

Poet Elizabeth Melville, Lady Culross, published Ane Godlie Dreame in 1603 and wrote more than 4,000 lines of verse in Scots.

She was commemorated on Saturday with a flagstone inscribed with two lines of her writing at Makars’ Court

It reads: “Though tyrants threat, though Lyons rage and rore, Defy them all, and feare not to win out.”

It is the 39th addition to Scotland’s national literary monument since the first stone was laid in 1997.

Ms Greer said: “Elizabeth Melville embodies much of what is special about Scotland. She was a married woman who is known to history by her maiden name as was the Scottish practice; she wrote in English but hers is English as it is spoken by Scots; her faith was the Scottish version of Calvinism. She was European rather than insular.”

Dr Jamie Reid-Baxter, honorary research fellow at the University of Glasgow, said: “Elizabeth Melville is a great poet, but she would be worth celebrating simply for her courage in going into print in 1603, at a time when women were regularly garrotted and burnt as witches.

“That she called on her individual readers to defy tyrants, or else lose their immortal souls, is astonishing. It’s a call that rings out louder than ever in the 21st century.”