Scottish cultural and intellectual advocacy body the Saltire Society is approaching the culmination of a near year-long campaign to find the Most Outstanding Woman of Scotland, still open for formal nominations until St. Andrews Day, Sunday 30th November. The list has already attracted a slate of some of Scotland’s – and the UK’s – most outstanding women writers and cultural figures, including such obvious choices as Liz Lochhead and Naomi Mitchison, and perhaps less expected ones such as Ena Lamont Stewart, Scotland’s first major female playwright, and Janet Paisley, writer and coordinator of the first Scottish PEN Women Writers Committee.
“Members of the public are being called on to nominate candidates to be included in a list of ‘Outstanding Women of Scotland’,” the Society explains. “This major social media campaign is intends to celebrate the multitude of Scottish women who have made an outstanding contribution to the life, society and culture of Scotland.”
As poet J.L. Williams remarks, “it is a great honour (and surprise!) to have been added to the Saltire Society’s Most Outstanding Woman of Scotland nomination list, which includes Mary Queen of Scots!” Clearly it’s a very inclusive list by any standards, and looks likely to deliver a further boost to the status of Scotland’s women scribes.
“The only qualifying criterion for nominations is to demonstrate that the nominee has made an outstanding contribution to Scottish life, culture or society,” the nomination terms state. By that token, it’s not surprising to see Edinburgh resident non-Scot J.K. Rowling included, as well as New Zealand-born poetry stalwart Robyn Marsack. And for anyone else missing from the list – such as the heroic Margaret Oliphant, for instance – nominations remain open until the end of the month.