Ex-Libris: Naomi Mitchison

GSA Library recently received a donation of Highland Power: A Report on the utilisation of the Hydro-Electric Power envisaged in the Hydro-Electric Development (Scotland) Act-1943. This text questions how ‘the latent power of highland lochs, rivers and streams is to be harnessed to treble Scotland’s output of electricity.’


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However there is more to this seemingly innocuous book than meets the eye, as it formerly belonged to Scottish novelist and poet Naomi Mitchison. We know this as her personal bookplate has been pasted on the inside cover.


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Naomi Mitchison’s career had scientific beginnings, and it was only later in life that she began work as a writer. With her brother she began to study Mendelien genetics and published a paper with him at only 18 years of age, this paper demonstrated the genetic linkage in mammals for the first time. She went on to study science at Oxford University before changing her focus to nursing. She decided on this career-change after volunteering as a nurse during the First World War.


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She wrote more than 90 books over the course of her career as a writer, exploring a broad range of genres. This was often a way for her to express her political and ethical ideologies as she was a proud Socialist and Feminist. She believed deeply in the importance of birth control, and was fiercely opposed to the use of nuclear weapons. Mitchison died in January of 1999 after living to be 101 years of age!


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If you would like to request a viewing of Highland Power from our special collection you can find the catalogue record here. Or, if you are interested in reading some of Mitchison’s work you can borrow one of her fantasy novels: Travel Light, from our Fiction collection!


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