September 13th Nessie Dunsmuir (Birth)

The, Lanarkshire – born, poet Agnes Kilpatrick Dunsmuir (1909 – 1999), always known as Nessie Dunsmuir, was the widow of the poet W. S. Graham (November 19th).

The youngest of nine children, Nessie was a trained user of a key-driven mechanical calculator, known as a comptometer, and she met Graham when studying, as a mature student, at Newbattle Abbey, Edinburgh.  Through Graham, she became friends with some of the most famous artists and writers in Scotland and in Soho. 

In 1944, she moved with Graham to Cornwall, initially living in a caravan where they became friends with Sven Berlin (September 11th), Ben Nicholson (February 6th) and Bryan Wynter (September 8th).

Initially, the couple relied on Nessie’s earnings from her writing whilst Graham struggled for success however, as Graham became more popular she wrote less and less, believing him to be a better poet.  Her collection of ten poems was published to acclaim in 1988 but when asked for more she apparently stated that there were only ever ten.

Although separating for a while Nessie and Graham married in 1954 and went again to live in West Cornwall where they became closely associated with the St. Ives artists, Peter Lanyon (August 31st), Sir Terry Frost (September 1st), Roger Hilton (April 30th) and Rose Hilton (August 15th).


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