The Secret Diaries of Donald Dewar

By Lee-Potter, Adam | Daily Mail (London), August 30, 2001 | Go to article overview

The Secret Diaries of Donald Dewar


Lee-Potter, Adam, Daily Mail (London)


Byline: ADAM LEE-POTTER

THE turquoise, slightly laboured and smudged scrawl is pure Adrian Mole.

But from the very first entry, it is patently clear that this is no ordinary teenage diary. But then this is no ordinary teenager.

There is no talk here of spots, discos and pubescent angst. And certainly no Pandora. Indeed, girls are only mentioned, in passing, just the once, squeezed in between the reading of a weighty tome on European history and a bracing walk up an island glen. No, this is the secret diary of Donald Dewar, aged 15 and three-quarters.

It's a fascinating glimpse into the formative years of the adolescent who was to become known as 'the father of Scotland', the architect of devolution.

The much-loved inaugural First Minister, who died last October after a brain haemorrhage, was an avid reader with a well-documented hunger for literature.

He was also somewhat of a hoarder.

He left behind him, hidden away in his Glasgow flats, an astonishing array of 850 books, trivia and memorabilia, photographs, theatre programmes, restaurant menus, match tickets, speech transcripts, letters and even a rugby ball.

Gifted to the Scottish parliament by his children Iain and Marion, the collection - shown to the public for the first time yesterday - is to be housed in a specially designed reading room in the new Holyrood parliament building in Edinburgh.

Janet Seaton, head of research and information at the parliament, led the team which selected the items and which will catalogue and prepare the collection for its permanent home on the ground floor of Queensberry House.

Miss Seaton, who worked at the House of Commons library for 20 years until 1998, said of Mr Dewar: 'He was one of our favourite customers because he was demanding, but he was appreciative of what you did and he also had a sense of humour when he dealt with you and that goes a long way.

'So I was delighted to be involved in choosing the collection and making something that would be a good tribute to his memory in the new parliament.'

SIR David Steel told yesterday how he once found Mr Dewar sitting on the floor reading a book in a small library room during a party at the home of the late Labour leader John Smith.

He said: 'A reading room is the most appropriate way to remember Donald Dewar, his love of books was legendary.' Cooper Hay, an antiquarian bookseller and friend of Mr Dewar, described him as 'a true bibliophile', noting that one of the politician's last public duties, in September last year, was to host a reception for the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers in the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle.

He added: 'Donald Dewar was a remarkable man sorely missed by many. This selection from his library gifted to the Scottish people by Marion and Iain Dewar is a wonderful way of commemorating his life.' But, for many, the jewel in the collection's crown is the dozen-page diary that Mr Dewar kept in a faded black school exercise book during the August of 1953. Sir Winston Churchill was Prime Minister and England had won the Ashes for the first time in 20 years. But the teenage Dewar had more pressing issues on his mind.

The author and playwright John Mortimer once said that in the playground you can always see the future banker, the lawyer and the journalist.

And it is quickly apparent, when the boy Dewar talks of being impressed by a family friend's 'collection of Raeburns' and goes on to buy 'the biography of Prince Rupert, the Marquis of Montrose, Sir Francis Drake and Grant's Outline of European History,' that this is a very precise boy destined for a serious life.

A boy who meticulously underlines each day's entry not once but twice and always with a ruler. One who, when asked the time, would never say 'half-past-five' but always '5. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Secret Diaries of Donald Dewar
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.