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Scotland’s hidden historical heroes – and their struggles on the fringes – remember

Today, lesser-known figures from the Scottish past – from Walter Sholto Douglas, a 19th century transgender writer to Diwan Pitamber Nath, an Indian student who fought against racial segregation in Edinburgh dance halls and cafes in the 1920s , take center stage in a new exhibition.

Called Unforgettable, The exhibit, which was curated by Historic Environment Scotland, was mounted at Blackness Castle in West Lothian in April for the Year of Scotland’s Stories, 2022.

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Alex Paterson, managing director of Historic Environment Scotland, said the exhibit shed light on those from marginalized communities who have helped write the country’s history.

The ‘Unforgettable’ exhibit will be on view at Blackness Castle in West Lothian in April as part of Scotland’s 2022 Storytelling Year. PIC: Godot 13 / Creative Commons

He said: “Our legacy and the stories that shaped it are of course more than bricks and mortar, and through the thematic year we want to take the opportunity to highlight the unknown stories of the world. ‘Scotland and give a voice to the individuals and communities who have come before us. “

Walter Sholto Douglas was baptized Mary Diana Dods in 1790, the illegitimate child of George Douglas, 16th Earl of Morton, former Lord Lieutenant of Fife and High Commissioner of the Church of Scotland, whose family seat was Dalmahoy House near of Edinburgh.

Raised in London to avoid scandal, Walter used the pseudonym David Lyndsay for his work and created quite a masculine identity through his writing, exchanging professional and personal letters under that name.

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The ‘March on Wheels’ demonstration along Princes Street in Edinburgh, organized by Dr Margaret Blackwood, who led the fight for equal rights for people with disabilities. Dr Blackwood will be featured in a new exhibit that celebrates the achievements of lesser-known Scots who fought for change. PIC: HES.

He became a close friend of author Mary Shelley, who knew the fluent identity of the writer and helped her obtain a false passport, which enabled the writer to live publicly as a married man in Paris.

Walter’s true identity was sensationalized by literary scholar Betty T Bennett, author of Mary Diana Dods, A Gentleman and a Scholar, in 1991.

Unforgettable also highlights the story of Agnes McDonald, the last Scottish woman hanged under anti-Gypsy law in Scotland. It was performed at the Grassmarket in Edinburgh in 1714.

Dr Margaret Blackwood from Dundee, a pioneer for disability rights, is also in attendance.

The exhibition will feature Agnes McDonald, who was executed in 1714 and was the last Scottish gypsy / traveler to be hanged under anti-Gypsy law in Scotland. PIC: Leanne McDonagh.

Diwan Pitamber Nath’s struggle to resist racial segregation in Edinburgh will also be recounted. A medical student at the University of Edinburgh, he became a central part of the campaign against the ‘color bars’ imposed by the capital’s entertainment venues – from dance halls to restaurants – to promote an exclusively white clientele. .

At the time, the capital welcomed a large number of students from all the former colonies.

Nath became an active member of Britain’s first South Asian student organization – the Edinburgh Indian Association (EIA) – and became a spokesperson against the policies that made them “social lepers” in their own right. adopted city. Reports of protests in places such as boardrooms and music halls made their way into the newspapers in India, fueling the independence movement in the country.

Nath passed his medical exams and served as a lieutenant. Colonel of the Indian Medical Service during World War II. He died in Edinburgh and was brought back to his family in New Delhi.

Diwan Pitamber Nath, a medical student at the University of Edinburgh, became an active member of the Edinburgh Indian Association (pictured), founded in 1883 and the first such organization in Britain. He campaigned against the introduction of “color bars” in entertainment venues in the capital from 1927. PIC: HES.

The exhibition also unveils the stories of Ethel Moorhead (1869-1955), an artist who became one of Scotland’s most vocal suffragists and laid eggs at Winston Churchill and Tom Jenkins, the son of a West African king and slave trader who would have become Scotland’s first black schoolteacher.

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