A Remarkable Woman

Dorothy Margaret Paulin (1904 – 1982)

Dorothy Margaret McBurnie was born on 3rd February 1904 in Dumfries where she grew up and attended Dumfries Academy, as did her father John, who was there at the same time as J. M. Barrie. Much of her holiday time was spent either exploring the surrounding countryside with her father on bicycles, or on the family farm near Dunscore, run by her uncles and aunts, none of whom married. In those days small girls wore dresses with many frilled petticoats, and one of her exploits ended in trouble when she decided to harness the sheep dog to a cart she'd made from a nesting box which resulted in every layer of the petticoat being lined with hen fleas! She was sent to boarding school for 5th and 6th year, supposedly to learn Greek, but it never happened and then she went on to Edinburgh University where she achieved an M.A. and B.Com. in 4 years.

She edited a number of magazines, including "Scottish Home and Country", the "Gallovidian Annual" and the "Soil Association Magazine" among others. Her first job was in a solicitor's office where she married her boss. She wrote articles and poems for several publications, particularly Country Life, as well as 4 books of poetry during her lifetime, in addition to campaigning vigorously on various issues to do with the countryside. She attended Woman of Scotland Lunches, (http://www.wosl.co.uk/home.asp), was Scottish Representative on the board of the Soil Association and also on the board of the APRS; chair of the local Stewartry Preservation Society, local Soil Association and local SCRAM groups. She was lead soprano in a number of choral productions, both locally and before that in Edinburgh as well as being an excellent artist, horsewoman, and in her younger days, sports person, having been in all the school teams and rowed for the University.

During WW2 she was Scottish Office Liaison Officer to the Land Army and had to travel the length and breadth of Scotland in all weather, during which time she became adept at fixing her car. She was widely respected among colleagues and friends, many of whom were well known, including writers, artists, politicians, academics and scientists,. She travelled extensively giving talks on a wide range of subjects, from organic farming to music and gave solace to many who were having trouble finding their way in life.

In addition to all this at the age of 47 she gave birth to a wilful and obstreperous child whom she nourished with love and support until her death, combining her work with child care so that as a child, her daughter travelled extensively, met the most amazing people, and had a better relationship with adults than most other children. Her daughter played with the farm manager's children next door or the housekeeper's son in Edinburgh until starting school at the local primary (Parton). Her mother was not impressed with the education she was receiving there so she was packed off to boarding school at the age of nearly 9. This was doubtless a relief, as it gave her time to do her own things, and not have to drag a reluctant, car sick child everywhere, but she wrote regularly and visited at every opportunity; once coming to pick up her daughter for half term from Whitby, when the town was supposed to be cut off with deep snow. She was the only parent to do so which meant than her daughter and another girl who live fairly locally to her, were the only people in the school to get home that holiday. Very little stopped her when she was determined to do something, and for her time, was a remarkable woman.