I would like to share with you two updates from the Edinburgh Book Festival event about my Mother, Stephanie Wolfe Murray. For one beautiful hour in August authors, publishers and my brother Kim gave a series of short talks about a wonderful woman.

Alexander McCall Smith agreed to share the poem he wrote about my Mother and read out at the event. You can see it below.

I don’t know much about poetry but I find this one remarkable; every time I read it I come away with a new understanding. It seems very rich and I will treasure it.

I also got the approval of McCall Smith, Alasdair Gray, Tom Pow, Jamie Byng and the other speakers to share the audio recording of the Book Festival event. It’s worth listening to as their stories are witty and none have the dourness I associate with memorial events. Just click on the little play button above this text.

The only talk from that event that I am publishing on my blog is the one by my big brother Kim. It was a great talk and by putting it on my blog it will sit alongside the eulogy that my brother Gavin gave at the funeral, as well as all the testimonials that formed the basis for the wee book that we did about her.

Here is Alexander McCall Smith’s poem:

A maker of beautiful books  

In memory of Stephanie Wolfe Murray, publisher.

A maker of beautiful books

Knows exactly what it is that makes

Paper, card, printer’s ink,

The raw words of the writer

Into that lovely object

We call a book; understands

The subtle work of fonts,

Of leading, of bindings,

That makes a book something

We wish to hold to ourselves,

To keep and cherish, to read

At times when the soul is in need

Of solace, of insight, and art

That can transform the quotidian Into the transcendent.

A maker of beautiful books

Understands that text

Should whisper to us its message

Like a confiding friend,

Not in the trumpet tones

Of the strident, the polemical,

But gently, tactfully,

In private places of exchange

Where the loud and the angry

Have no wish to linger.

A maker of beautiful books

Brings people together In civil and gracious converse,

Helps the puzzled and confused

To understand what it is

That puzzles or confuses them;

Puts an end to that ignorance

On which evil parasitically

Thrives; shows the weak

The way to strength, brings

Freedom to the most remote corners,

Reminds us of love

And its manifold works.

A maker of beautiful books

Lies in a Borders field

With all the hills as watchmen;

But the books she made

Live on, resolute upon their shelves

In a hundred far-flung places,

Their maker’s advocates, her legacy,

Her sure and beautiful touch

Upon our troubled world,

Less troubled for her presence,

Surer, for her example,

Of the possibilities of truth and beauty.