By Adam Drummond and Mike Shepherd
In 1891 Rev Adam Drummond arrived as the new minister of the Congregational Church in Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire. His tenure of office was short as he moved to Macduff some four years later.
But, in that short period, Mr Drummond became totally immersed in the language and customs of his parishioners and the close-knit fishing community which he served, part of which is reflected in the 11 short stories written by him at the time.
Discovered in manuscript by his great-granddaughter when clearing out her father’s attic, they now appear in print for the first time in The Cruden Bay Bram Stoker Knew – Adam Drummond’s Stories, edited and published with additional material by Mike Shepherd.
These 11 stories, partly in English and partly in Doric, give an insight into the lives, loves, working practices and superstitions of a North East coastal community in the 1890s.
Mike Shepherd opens the book with a brief history of Cruden Bay during the period of Adam Drummond’s residence there, setting the scene for the stories that follow.
He concludes the book with notes on the influences the area had on the works of Bram Stoker, who was well known to Mr Drummond, although it would seem the latter did not approve of the influence some of Stoker’s supernatural writings might have on his readers.
The stories themselves tell of a close-knit community, holding fast to old customs and whose lives were dominated by the all powerful influence of the sea.
Most of the dialogue in the stories is in the broad Buchan Doric of the Northeast and Mike Shepherd has helpfully provided a full English translation of each story for those who might struggle with the dialect. Adam Drummond’s use of Doric is handled seamlessly and intelligently considering he was not an Aberdeenshire native.
The stories deal with mundane everyday life in a coastal village, with the occasional “event”, which draws all the residents together.
In The Wreck of the Pearl Adam Drummond describes the local response to a French ship foundering off the coast and his descriptions are reminiscent of Charles Dickens’ telling of a similar incident in David Copperfield.
Drummond turns to comedy in the unintended proposal of marriage which we find in Stumpie’s Proposal and paints a picture
of the North East trait of dogged stubbornness in A case of Conscience.
Here we have a collection of short stories which are masterpieces of Doric literature, capturing the emotional landscape of an 1890s Aberdeenshire fishing village and in particular, the incredible closeness of the community.
The stories are greatly enhanced by Mike Shepherd’s detailed scene setting of the historical context in which they were written, and on a whole provide an important glimpse of a time and lifestyle that is completely gone.
The Cruden Bay Bram Stoker Knew has been supported by the Doric Board and is available to purchase from Amazon.