Thursday, 27 June 2013

Mary Lily Walker Celebrations Start!

After long months of planning, today sees the start of 4 days of celebration for the Mary Lily Walker Centenary. There's due to be a Civic Reception for all those who've taken place in pulling together the celebrations.

You can also take part by attending the exhibition currently up in the Tower Building Foyer at Dundee University. The exhibition was designed by Brett Housego, Head of Design at Suzanne Zeedyk ltd. and features letters, images and items from the life and times of Mary Lily Walker. It will run until the 12th August and entrance is free to all.

Mary Lily was one of the first cohort of students to study at the university, back when it was known as University College Dundee and the exhibition features lab samples from her time working in the university laboratories under D'arcy Wentworth Thompson.

Also on show is part of the report into child poverty that she authored in 1905. We do hope you'll enjoy the exhibition - if you do get to catch it, be sure to let us know what you think by leaving us a comment here or on our Facebook Page.

Below are some photos of the research team installing the exhibition.

Dundee University's Matthew Jarron filling the case with artefacts.

This is how you hang an exhibition!

One suddenly realises how big the exhibition is!

The exhibition crew, from shortest to tallest:  Suzanne Zeedyk, 
Brett Housego, Matthew Jarron, Pete Kinnear

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Mary Lily Walker and Graduation 2013

Mary Lily Walker's story was told at all 6 graduation ceremonies at the University of Dundee last week, a story that was also covered by the Dundee Courier.  Principal Pete Downes spoke of her in his Graduation Speech, doing so underneath an image of her projected on the screens.  That means that last week approximately 9000 people heard something of her story.  Let's keep telling it!

Principal Pete Downes telling Mary Lily Walker's story.
Mary Lily's picture being projected to 1500 people.
 Here's what the Principal had to say:

Let me now tell you a story that vividly illustrates the richness of our history at the University of Dundee, and our commitment to transforming lives.  It is the inspirational story of one of our first graduates, Mary Lily Walker.  On this, the centenary of her death, I would like to take the opportunity to champion her achievements.

Mary Lily was not only one of the first women in Scotland to be taught in the same classroom as men, winning prizes in Botany, Biology and Embryology, but was a pioneer for social reform in Dundee and beyond.

Her innovative approach to addressing the issues facing mothers and children in Dundee at the time led her to found the UK’s first mother's restaurant, to provide sustenance for nursing mothers, to set up a women’s hospital where women could be treated by female doctors, and to set up children’s clinics in Dundee.

And the achievement for which she is best known, the founding of the Grey Lodge Settlement in Dundee, which educated social workers and offered classes and activities for children in the city, still thrives today after she willed her properties to the oranisation.
Mary Lily also wrote the highly-influential Dundee Social Union Report of 1905, which revealed the deplorable working and living conditions in Dundee, especially the dreadful infant mortality rate.  This was a publication that was talked about in Parliament, and which was influential in Liberal social reforms.

Before her death, Mary Lily went on to become one of the first women parish councillors in Dundee, and was one of only two women asked to write for the British Society for the Advancement of Science Handbook in 1912.

Mary Lily died in July 1913, four days before her fiftieth birthday, but in her short life she transformed the social conditions of women in our city and beyond.

As an institution we at the University of Dundee take inspiration from Mary Lily’s story. If each and every one of us tries to emulate her ambition, innovation, and imagination and applies those principles to the way we teach, to our research tackling complex global problems and to harness our efforts to transforming lives, then we will reach our goal of becoming Scotland’s leading university within 25 years and, who knows, maybe even less time!

As an interesting aside, we recently learned something interesting about the mace, carried at all graduations at the University of Dundee (see below). It turns out it was gifted to the University in 1913, to commemorate the 500th anniversary of St Andrews University (to which University College Dundee was once affiliated).

It was presented to the University by Mr Rudolf Polack, whose wife, Mrs Polack, was for many years on the board of the Women's Hospital started by Mary Lily Walker and colleagues. Once you start delving into the history, there are many intersections!

Monday, 24 June 2013

Mary Lily Walker: The Book is now Available!

Exciting news this week as Eddie Small's biography of Mary Lily Walker has been launched. We received the first pressings earlier last Friday - below are some pictures of author Eddie Small, publisher Anna Day and Suzanne Zeedyk with the first copies.

Eddie (author),  Anna Day (publisher) & Suzanne, clearly sharing a good joke
Suzanne, Eddie and all the lovely boxes of books!

Entitled Mary Lily Walker: Forgotten Visionary of Dundee, here's a summary of the book:

 This is a story about a remarkable woman from a city renowned for its strong women; a woman who not only brought national attention to the desperate plight of women and children in late-Victorian Dundee, but who introduced social and healthcare reform to a city she held dear. A true original, this book tells her story for the first time - her early life, her inspirations and the friendships and relationships which make her a true treasured daughter of Dundee.This is the story of a legacy which still survives one hundred years after her untimely death. This is the story that has been too long in the telling.

Copies of the book are available from:

-Dundee University Press HERE HERE
- Waterstones Dundee, who set up a beautiful display for us (see below)
- All attendees at our conference on the 29th June will receive a free copy (we've still got a few seats left, it's not too late to register!).

The lovely book display in Waterstones Dundee.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

An Exhibition, Rotary Club Presentation and a Royal Visit!


We're very excited to share with you all the news that the University of Dundee will be hosting an exhibition on Mary Lily Walker from the 21st of June all the way through to the 12th of August.

Situated in the Tower Building foyer (the tall building situated just off of the Nethergate/Perth Rd.), it'll showcase letters, documents, pictures and more about the life and times of Miss Walker. Included will be items from her time at the University, when it had just opened it's doors as the University College Dundee - including lab specimens from her work alongside Professor Wentworth D'arcy Thompson.

Entrance to the exhibition is free, and it is disabled accessible from the rear of the building.

Rotary Club Presentation

Suzanne had the pleasure this week of speaking to the Claverhouse Rotary Club about our Mary Lily Walker events.  

This was a particular pleasure because it let her highlight one of many minor characters in Mary Lily's story. Hector Turnbull owned the Claverhouse Bleachfields, situated near the Dighty Burn in Dundee. Hector Turnbull was  Mary Lily's uncle, and was a witness at the wedding of her father and mother.  Our historical research has revealed that, when her father died in 1876, Hector was most unhappy about a prenuptial agreement that they had signed, and he refused to assist in legal proceedings concerning her father's estate. We haven't yet uncovered why he was unhappy! 

You can read much more about the history we've uncovered in Eddie Small's forthcoming biography.

This little story gives a sense of the many interwoven themes in our activities — especially when one of the Rotary members commented afterward that his house overlooks the site of the Bleachfields.

Here's a few photos of Suzanne giving that talk.

Many thanks to the Rotary members who wrote afterward to say how interesting and engaging they found the presentation to be.

Royal Visit

In other exciting news, Prince Charles came to Dundee last week and found the time to visit the Grey Lodge Settlement, which Mary Lily Walker left in her will to the people of Dundee.

Interestingly, it marks the second time that a Prince of Wales has visited the settlement. During his time there, Charles was entertained with traditional dancing and got to meet many of the volunteers who help keep Grey Lodge Settlement running today, 100 years after it's inception.

A full range of photos of the visit featured in local newspaper The Courier can be found at our Facebook page HERE

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Conference Update, Mary in The News and Walking Tours

It's been a busy week for our research team, who're busy making preparations for our upcoming events. We've got much to share with you, here's some of the recent news:

Conference News
It's two weeks today until our conference Mary Lily Walker’s Footsteps: 100 years of Scotland’s Early Years Movement gets underway at the University of Dundee. Places are still available via Eventbrite (link below) at a price of £50 for students and £80 for other delegates.

The event goes on throughout the day from 9am to 4pm, with welcome coffee, mid-morning tea and lunch for all delegates. There'll be a variety of speakers from all across Scotland and beyond, including representatives from the Scottish Parliament, University of Dundee and Glasgow's Violence Reduction Unit. 

We're also pleased to announce that there will be a free copy of local author Eddie Small's new book Mary Lily Walker: Forgotten Visionary of Dundee available for all conference delegates.

Tickets can be booked via the below link:

Mary in The News

It's been a busy time for Mary Lily Walker recently, and the local newspapers have been kind enough to feature her not once, but twice. On Tuesday last week, The Courier in Dundee talked about the parallels between the current debate on sleeping alongside one's baby with the issues that Mary Lily Walker discussed back in her day over 100 years ago.

Before this, the Courier featured an article about the delightful Edwardian banquet we held in St Paul's schoolrooms earlier this month.

You can read the articles over at our Facebook page, Here and Here.

Great Walking Tours Response

A big thanks to all who attended our walking tours on Wednesday 12th of this month. We've had some excellent feedback from our walkees, and we're looking forward to showing more of you the hidden sites of early 20th century Dundee in the coming weeks. There's more tours planned for the 28th June, and some on today (15th June) if you're quick enough to grab yourself a place.

As before, tours are free of charge, take place in both morning (11am-12pm) and evening (2-3pm & 4-5pm). Each of the tours takes in a different part of Dundee, taking in different sites around the University of Dundee, City Centre and West End of Dundee respectively. Places are limited, so be sure to book your place by e-mailing We hope to see you there - here's some of the lovely things that those who joined us on the tours have said:

"I am sure that I never heard her name before, given all the things she did why haven't we ever heard her name before?

"She must have been a most remarkable woman"

"This has been most interesting and we look forward to reading more about Mary Lily"

Thursday, 13 June 2013

'Mary Lily: The Movie', walking tours & a book launch!

It's winding up to be a busy month, and we've got lots of Mary Lily Walker news to share with you as the celebration events at the end of the month grow ever closer. Here's a roundup:

Mary Lily Walker: The Movie!

If you unfortunately couldn't make it to our Edwardian charity banquet at the start of the month, you can now be there in spirit! Wonderful local film-makers Dragonreel Films were in attendance, and they've produced a short film in which they met the chefs and some of the characters in attendance. They even managed to get a brief interview with Mary Lily Walker herself! You can watch the film below:

Photos from the evening are also up on our Facebook page, which has recently been relocated to a new address at: A few pictures are featured below to give you a taste of what was an excellent night.

The full set can be found HERE - have a look and enjoy a flavour of the times.

Walking Tours
As mentioned last week, following the success of the previous walking tours, we've got some more planned. Full details are available on the poster to the right., with the next tours scheduled for this Saturday in both morning (11am-12pm) and afternoon (2-3pm). Places are limited, so if you're interested in joining us, be sure to e-mail or call on 0845 075 3694 to book your space!

Book Launch

We're very excited to be able to announce the launch of a book on Mary Lily Walker, penned by local author Eddie Small. Entitled Mary Lily Walker: Forgotten Visionary of Dundee, it's being released on the 23rd June and is full of images from the time alongside the story of Mary Lily Walker's life and legacy. Here's a description from the Dundee University Press website:
This is a story about a remarkable woman from a city renowned for its strong women; a woman who not only brought national attention to the desperate plight of women and children in late-Victorian Dundee, but who introduced social and healthcare reform to a city she held dear. A true original, this book tells her story for the first time - her early life, her inspirations and the friendships and relationships which make her a true treasured daughter of Dundee.This is the story of a legacy which still survives one hundred years after her untimely death. This is the story that has been too long in the telling.
Copies can be pre-ordered from the above link, by phoning 0845 075 3694 or by e-mailing A free copy will be available for all those registered for the Mary Lily Walker Conference on the 29th June.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Walking Tours: June

Following the success of our previous walking tours of Dundee, we've arranged some more to co-incide with the events taking place this month to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Mary Lily Walker's death. The walks are being held in association with the Dundee Westfest - more information can be found on their website:

The tours will be taking in various historical sites related to the life and times of Mary Lily Walker around Dundee, and will be led by members of our research team. Places are limited, in order to book, e-mail

Dates for the tours are Wednesday 12th and Saturday 15th June, with one in the morning between 11AM and 12PM, and one in the afternoon between 2 and 3PM. 

The morning tours will be led by Dr David Dobson, meeting at The Howff, Barack St entrance. Afternoon tours will be led by Pete Kinnear and will meet at the DCA.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Conference Details

It's not long now until our conference, being held at The University of Dundee on the subject of Scotland's Early Years movement over the last 100 years. Tickets are still available, via the link below.