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Sketch by Isa, Marjory's cousin.

Who was Marjory Fleming?

Marjorie Fleming (15 January 1803 - 19 December 1811) was a child writer and poet, born in Kirkcaldy, Fife, Scotland. She died of meningitis at the age of 8. Her complete written work is held by the National Library of Scotland. After spending some time in Edinburgh under the tutelage of her beloved cousin Isa Keith, Fleming returned to Kirkcaldy, where she contracted measles which later developed into the meningitis that killed her.

She is best remembered for a diary which she kept for the last eighteen months of her life. For fifty years following her death the diary remained unpublished, although she was rumoured to be the favorite poet of Sir Walter Scott. Fleming was allegedly related to Scott distantly on her mother's side. The two never referred to each other in their journals and the relationship was suggested by her 1863 editor Dr. John Brown.

Her diary was first published in 1858 by H. B. Farnie and was a great hit with Victorians. It was subsequently re-edited by Dr. Brown in 1863 and Lachlan Macbean in 1904 and 1928. However, these were severely truncated and re-worked versions of Fleming's diary, due to the nature of Fleming's writing style which used language seen in Victorian times as inappropriate for an eight-year-old to use, or indeed to be used at all in polite company. As a result, Fleming's writings were extensively edited during the Victorian and subsequent Edwardian periods and a complete and accurate edition was not published until 1935, over a century after Marjorie Fleming's death.

Note: "Marjorie" is the spelling popularized by her later editors. "Marjory" is the spelling used by the Fleming family.

Marjory's life was from 1803 to 1811.

From my personal collection.


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Taken on February 24, 2009