Local News

An Adventure in Time with The Strawplaiters of Orkney #BookWeekScotland

The working lives of women and girls are explored in a Book Week Scotland series of events in Stromness following the publication of a new book ‘The Strawplaiters of Orkney’ by Fiona Grahame and published by Orkney News Ltd.

Thousands of women and girls were employed plaiting straw for the bonnet making industry in Orkney in the first half of the 19th century. Orkney had everything for this industry to flourish: the raw materials, a highly skilled workforce, and a distribution network based on shipping both for imports and exports.

Working with a wide range of partners, Scottish Book Trust – the national charity changing lives through reading and writing – will deliver events and activities across the country during Book Week Scotland 2023, which runs 13 – 19 November, linked to this year’s theme of Adventure. Now in its twelfth year Book Week Scotland was initiated by the Scottish Government.

Hundreds of free events happen throughout Book Week Scotland across many different local authorities, funded by Scottish Library and Information Council (SLIC). bookweekscotland.com

Book Week Scotland, 13th to 19th November, is a national celebration of books and reading. The theme for Book Week Scotland 2023 is Adventure.

The Strawplaiters of Orkney will take participants on an Adventure in Time.

poster for Book Week with a picture of a woman at home plaiting straw

Events include:

A book launch and a reading by the author, Fiona Grahame, Northlight Gallery, Stromness, Tuesday 14th November, 7pm. Free and open to the public

A straw plaiting workshop by crafter Sue Knowles, Northlight Gallery, Stromness, Wednesday 11am – 4pm. Free and open to the public.

An exhibition running 13th – 25th November, Northlight Gallery, Stromness, daily 11am – 4pm. Free and open to the public. The exhibition is also part of the Fair Saturday Scotland Festival in collaboration with Orkney Rape and Sexual Assault Service (ORSAS)

Developing the Young Workforce (DYW) will be taking part in an ‘Adventure in Time’ exploring the lives of the Orkney strawplaiters through an activity pack produced by the author.

Commenting on the Book Week Scotland events in Stromness, author Fiona Grahame said:

“Thousands of women and girls were employed plaiting straw and making bonnets for export. Stromness, as a major port, was a hub for this industry but it spread throughout Orkney.”

“What happened to the people who had relied on this industry when it suddenly collapsed? ‘The Strawplaiters of Orkney, follows the lives of the people involved and explores the reasons why it vanished so quickly.”

“I am really pleased that we can share this little known period in the working lives of Orcadian women and girls through Book Week Scotland. I look forward to working with DYW, skilled crafter Sue Knowles, and the Northlight Gallery, Stromness, in presenting local history in an engaging way.”

Leave a Reply