Delve into the lives and exploits of some of Scotland’s most vibrant personalities and brilliant minds. You may not have heard of all these characters, or you may know a bit about their life and legacy. All of them led extraordinary lives. Here we uncover some of the lesser-known facts about them, and the impact they had both in their own time, and beyond.
Who was Ann Forbes?
Ann Forbes (1745–1834) was a Scottish artist who was educated in Rome. In the eighteenth century, it was relatively unusual for a woman to be a professional artist. There were a few other women whose example Forbes looked to, such fellow Scot Katharine Read (1723-1778), and the Swiss painter Angelica Kauffman (1741-1807), but professional female artists were rare.
Forbes traveled from Edinburgh to Rome where she studied with Scottish artists Gavin Hamilton and James Nevay, developing her skills in portraiture among the expatriate British community. However, Forbes’ experience of both learning and building a career was not without challenges. Watch here to find out more about how this determined artist carved out a professional career at a time when such an undertaking was not easy.
Elsie Inglis (1864 – 1917) was a physician, surgeon, humanitarian, feminist, and pioneer of medical education for women. Born in India, she came to Scotland when she was about fourteen and studied medicine in Edinburgh and Glasgow. In 1892 she qualified as a doctor and in 1894 opened a general practice in Edinburgh as well as a hospital for women and children. Inglis was actively involved in the campaign for women's votes. But she didn't stop there.
During the First World War, Inglis organised hospital units staffed by women for overseas service – the Scottish Women’s Hospitals for Foreign Service. She led one of these hospitals in Serbia, where she was the first woman to receive the Order of the White Eagle, the highest Serbian honour for heroism.
Watch to find out more about this inspirational and pioneering doctor.
King James VI & I
King James VI & I (1566 - 1625) was the first monarch of Scotland, England, and Ireland, after Elizabeth I of England died childless and named James as her heir. When he became king, this united the countries in what became known as the Union of the Crowns.
In this film find out how James reigned over a relatively peaceful time in British history, although it was not without its share of drama and plots to overthrow him. He was a scholar, a poet, a theologian, and a patron of the arts, with a particular passion for jewelry. His long marriage to Anne of Denmark produced several children, and in his lifetime his relationships with men at court led to much speculation. He was fiercely religious, believing that he had been appointed as king directly by God. James's fear of the occult and the threat of harm to his reign by dark magic meant he was fierce in his persecution of so-called witches.
Flora Macdonald (1722-1790) courageously helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape ‘over the sea to Skye’, a story that is one of Scotland’s most enduring legends. After Prince Charlie’s disastrous defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746, he was on the run from the British Army and hiding in the Hebrides. Flora took a huge personal risk in concealing him as her maid ‘Betty Burke’ and helping him evade the British, before eventually reaching the safety of France.
But what happened to Flora after this? This film looks at Flora’s heroic act, and then some of the less well-known adventures she undertook. What happened after Charlie escaped and she was arrested for helping him? Why did she help him? And what became of her later in life as she and her family emigrated to America, a colony on the brink of war with Britain?
Watch to discover some of the lesser-known facts about the life of one of Scotland’s celebrated Jacobite heroines.