Family Legends

Robinson Crusoe Book CoverToday Scottish Book Trust launched Family Legends, a new reading and writing campaign, in partnership with Lottery Heritage Fund and BBC Radio Scotland. Family Legends invites you to write a true story of between 100 and 1000 words inspired by a character or event in your family history. Stories can be submitted online and will be published on the Family Legends website. A selection of the stories will be published in a book (previous projects have seen the publication of The Book That Changed My Life and Days Like This) and five will be broadcast on BBC Radio.

I’m thinking about who I’m going to write about. Apparently I had a great-great-uncle who sailed to the Antarctic (I think. May have been the other pole. I’ll need to check that out). Or my grandmother was pretty well known for her mean sense of humour: when my uncle was a small boy she pushed his face in a trifle when he leaned over to admire it. (What kind of mother does that to her own child? Or ruins a perfectly good dessert that she has made herself, for that matter? It boggles the mind.) Or I might write about the time my dad found the tip of Robinson Crusoe’s compass on the island where he was marooned (the real Robinson Crusoe that is, Alexander Selkirk. I think it would be cooler to be related to Selkirk than to the chap who found his compass tip but hey-ho, you can’t have everything).

Who is a legend in your family?

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7 thoughts on “Family Legends

  1. My great gran, known to us as Little Nan on account of her being so very small, was the world’s best storyteller and swore like a sailor, even when she was 106. She travelled a lot and when she was in her late 90s and her passport expired, she asked my mum to help her get it renewed for another ten years. She was sacked from a pot-washing job at Butlins for lying about her age (she was well past retirement age and pretended she was still young enough to work). She also once worked in a Vaseline factory and fell head first into a vat of the stuff. As far as I know she never explored new lands or discovered any treasures, but she’s still a legend to me.

    I like your grandmother’s sense of humour. Her and Little Nan would probably have gotten on like a house on fire 🙂

  2. Wow, you have a lot of material to choose from! I think I’d go for my great-grandfather, who crossed the continent to the Gold Rush in Alaska, made his fortune, then went home again after two years in the frontier.

  3. Little Nan does indeed sound like a legend. I think you’re right, Michelle, she and my grandmother probably would have gotten on well. My gran would have gotten a big kick out of the story of Little Nan falling head first into the vaseline. In fact, if she’d been around, she might even have given her a shove 😉

    Your great-grandfather’s story sounds exciting, Talli. I’m fascinated by stories of people who have been brave enough to move somewhere else in search of their fortune (or love, or fame…). It’s not such a big deal nowadays with aeroplanes and the internet making travel and communicaton so easy, but can you imagine what it was like a century or more ago, taking such a big risk, leaving your friends and family and travelling so far away from home? Very inspiring!

  4. Gee, I’m not sure there are any family legends in my family. Maybe we’re just a boring lot. I totally loved the story about your grandmother. I think it’s one of those sounds funnier afterward stories. Hehehe.

  5. Where to start – there was John-in-bed, The French Gt Gt grandma who wasn’t really French, Old Auntie who wasn’t anyone’s auntie really…I could go on….

    Little Nan is an awesome name for a family legend!

  6. Laura, I’m sure that’s not true. Surely there’s someone in your family who has gotten into a memorable scrape or two in their lifetime? Maybe in the future you will be the legend your great great grandkids talk about as they pore over your books and try to imagine what you were like.

    Rachel, I am intrigued. The French great great grandma who wasn’t really French? Was she an international spy? A slippery conwoman? A fugitive on the run through Paris’s grimy back alleys?

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