Elizabeth Melville Day

with Professor Germaine Greer

greer.jpgCelebrating Elizabeth Melville and the voices of Scottish women

on 21st June 2014

Elizabeth Melville, Lady Culross was the first Scotswoman to see her work in print with the publication of her mini-epic 'Ane Godlie Dreame' in 1603. It quickly became a best-seller, right down to 1737.

Join us for a day of celebration - events outlined below.

Don't miss out on other events in May and June, leading up to the 21st of June! More information available below.

Saturday 21st June 2014

Flagstone Unveiling - 11.30am

Professor Greer will unveil an inscribed flagstone commemorating Elizabeth Melville (c.1578-c.1640). The quotation from "Ane Godlie Dreame" inscribed on the flagstone reads

'Though tyrants threat, though Lyons rage and rore, Defy them all, and feare not to win out.'

Location: Edinburgh’s Makars’ Court, beside the Writers' Museum, Lady Stair’s Close, Lawnmarket, EH1 2PA


eric.jpgRiddle's Court Reception - 12 Noon - 1.30pm

Join the Reception with Professor Greer at 16th Century Riddle's Court, 322 Lawnmarket EH1 2PG.

Booking essential. Tickets £12 (includes buffet lunch and glass of wine). Will also feature music and poetry of the period.

Symposium  "Defy them all, and feare not to win out" - 2pm to 5pm

augustine-utf.jpgAugustine United Church, 41 George IV Bridge, EH1 1EL

Germaine Greer, novelist James Robertson, poet Meg Bateman and Rev. Dr. Janet Foggie will discuss Melville, Scottish women writers and (female) spirituality with the audience in thinking about the forgotten voices of Scottish women. The discussion will be chaired by Dr Jamie Reid-Baxter, Melville's editor, and the afternoon will be punctuated by live performances of Melville's words, by Eleanor Hubbard (soprano) and Eric Thomas (lute - pictured above).

Tickets £8 - available on the door

Ane Midsimmar Nichts Godlie Dreame - Choral Concert - 7.30pm  to 9.15pm

High Kirk of St Giles, Royal Mile

stgiles.jpgPerformance by the vocal ensemble Sang Scule, directed by James Hutchinson. During the concert in Edinburgh's most historic kirk, Germaine Greer and Meg Bateman will each read a sonnet by Elizabeth Melville.  All five of the poet's songs will be sung by the choir, embedded in a thrilling sequence of music from the Scottish Reformation: the great psalm of defiance, "Now Israel may say..." (Ps.124), and beautiful choral settings of poetry by George Buchanan, James Melville and Alexander Montgomerie.

Tickets £10 / £5 (concessions)

Tickets available at the door, on the night.

bookcover.jpgAlso as part of the celebration...

From Monday 16th June to Friday 27th June 2014 (9-5, weekdays only)

Elizabeth Melville Display in New College Library
From Monday 16th June to Friday 27th June 2014 (9-5, weekdays only) there will be manuscript and printed work by Elizabeth Melville on display in the beautiful library of New College, on the Mound. 

Access free to all.

Copies of 'Poems of Elizabeth Melville, Lady Culross' Edited by Jamie Reid-Baxter can be purchased online at Wordpower Books or by visiting 43-45 W Nicolson St, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH8 9DB. Alternatively, call 0131 662 9112 or email

Tuesday 20th May at 6 pm
riddle.jpgAne Godlie Hour in James VI's Edinburgh 
Riddle's Court, 322 Lawnmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2PG
"Ane Godlie Hour in James VI's Edinburgh, with songs by Elizabeth Melville, Lady Culross" - Eleanor Hubbard (soprano), Eric Thomas (lute),  Jamie Reid-Baxter (narrator)
Did you know...?
The great Scottish religious poet, Elizabeth Melville, Lady Culross (c.1578- c.1640), was the daughter of a leading courtier, Sir James Melville of Halhill. Sir James and his distinguished brothers had been true friends to  Mary Queen of Scots, but they were also convinced protestants who became loyal and valued servants of James VI.  But young Elizabeth was a resolute opponent of James VI  - when it came to the king's plans for the Kirk. Like her very distant relative and good friend Andrew Melville, the great reformer, Elizabeth believed that there were "twa Kings in Scotland and twa Kingdomes in Scotland".  She believed in a self-governing Kirk whose king was Jesus, "whase subject King James the Saxt is".  The king (a trained theologian himself) believed in a Kirk ruled by a godly prince, appointed by God - namely James VI.
Tickets: £5
Book online at or call 0131 473 2000.

Sunday 1st June at 7.30pm
Cockenzie House (pictured below, right), 
22 Edinburgh Road, Cockenzie & Port Seton, East Lothian, EH32 0HY

Defy them all
cockenzie.jpg"Defy them all : a celebration of two poetic opponents of James VI - John Davidson, minister of Prestonpans, and Elizabeth Melville, Lady Culross."

Katharine Laurie Jones (soprano), Eric Thomas (lute - pictured above), Jamie Reid-Baxter (narrator)
Travel back four hundred years and more to hear the thrilling and colourful story of two Scots poets - a brave kirk minister and a remarkable woman - who dared to defy the dictates of tyrannical governments.  Narrated by historian Dr Jamie Reid-Baxter, and studded with exquisite music from the reign of James VI -  solo lute music and songs.

John Davidson (1549-1604), a friend of John Knox, had to spend two periods in exile in the 1570s and 1580s, thanks to his sturdy presbyterian conviction that the Kirk had to be independent of the Crown. Famous as a thunderous preacher, Davidson sometimes also spoke out in ringing Scots verse.  He became minister of Prestonpans in 1596, and built a kirk for his people there. Right to the end of his energetic life, he was a thorn in the side of King James. In 1602, Davidson published "Some Helpes for Young Schollers", for his parish school. It contains a lyrical paraphrase of Psalm 130, which will be sung for the first time in four hundred years in this recital.
Elizabeth Melville, Lady Culross (c.1578- 1640) was another convinced presbyterian whokatharine.jpg expressed herself in beautiful Scots poetry. In 1603 she became Scotland’s first woman to put her work into print.  Melville lived through the period in which James defeated the Kirk, and imposed royally-appointed bishops to control it.  She was a friend of the leading figures in the National Covenant movement that overthrew the bishops in 1638. In her poetry and letters Melville speaks with great eloquence; she also wrote several beautiful songs, which will be sung in Scots by Katharine Laurie Jones (right). A Glasgow graduate who has sung with Cappella Nova, the Dunedin Consort and the Telemann Ensemble, she regularly gives solo recitals all over Scotland.  Particularly interested in Scottish song ancient and modern, she teaches music at George Watson’s College
Tickets: £10  (there will be refreshments at the interval)
Book online at or call 0131 473 2000.
Alternatively call Cockenzie House on 01875 819 456.
The day in summary

11.30 - 12.00  Unveiling

12.00 - 13.30  Reception

14.00 - 17.00  Symposium

19.30 - 21.15  Choral Concert

First printed in 1603, Ane Godlie Dreame was a best-seller. Image reproduced by permission of the National Library of Scotland.

About the day

This celebration is brought to you by The Scots Language Centre, Dr Jamie Reid-Baxter, Rosemary Burton and the team at 'Previously...' Scotland's History Festival.

The organisers would also like to thank The Saltire Society and the City of Edinburgh Council for their support.

Riddle's Court Visuals courtesy of

© 2014 Previously... Scotland's History Festival