Document 1010

Review of "Hieroglyphics and other stories" (Anne Donovan)

Author(s): Liz Niven

Copyright holder(s): Liz Niven


"Hieroglyphics and other stories" by Anne Donovan Pub. Canongate £6.99 pp165

Furst printit in 2001, Hieroglyphics is noo reprintit in 2004. This, Anne Donovan’s furst collection o short stories was gey weil receivit, praised for its wunnerfu observations oan wimmen’s lives. Wimmen o aw ages feature in the buik, an thir stories are telt in a fine rynge o vices fae Staunart Scottish English throu tae West o Scotlan dialect.

Wi’oot heavy-haundedness, the author maks her pynts aboot the leid an its difficulties in contemporary Scotlan.

In ‘Hieroglyphics’, a wee lassie struggles at the scuil tae scrieve in English Linkin written English wi the wey a Glasgow lassie wid pronounce wurds, produces hilarious situations wi unnerlying serious pynts bein made.

‘M-A-R-Y. That’s ma name. Merry.’

Shiftin fae weans’ vyces tae auld wimmens’ wi a wheen age groups in atween, thir is ayeweys an authenticite aboot the emotions displayit, the situations depictit. Aw the stories are rootit in real lives, in hooses and scuils an cafes.

Whyles we’re delichtit tae hae a reprint o this fine buik, A’m shair hunners o fowk across the kintra are luikin forrit tae readin this author’s neist buik. Wull she stert tae scrieve mair in a male vyce, as she partially did in her novel ‘Buddha Da’? Wull she continue tae scrieve in Scots gien the International interest in her work? As wee Mary’s teacher said, in Hieroglyphics, ‘what point is there in writing something which is utterly unintelligible?’ to which she replies, ‘if you were an Egyptian you could read hieroglyphics, sur.’

A’m shair this wee smatterin o dialogue luiks familiar tae maist Lallans readers. A relevant topic fir debate. Scots leid proponents: If you were a Scot you could read Scots: An if no, why no? Discuss.

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Cite this Document

APA Style:

Review of "Hieroglyphics and other stories" (Anne Donovan). 2024. In The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Retrieved 12 July 2024, from

MLA Style:

"Review of "Hieroglyphics and other stories" (Anne Donovan)." The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. Glasgow: University of Glasgow, 2024. Web. 12 July 2024.

Chicago Style

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech, s.v., "Review of "Hieroglyphics and other stories" (Anne Donovan)," accessed 12 July 2024,

If your style guide prefers a single bibliography entry for this resource, we recommend:

The Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech. 2024. Glasgow: University of Glasgow.


Information about Document 1010

Review of "Hieroglyphics and other stories" (Anne Donovan)


Text audience

Adults (18+)
General public
Informed lay people
Audience size 100+

Text details

Method of composition Wordprocessed
Word count 308

Text medium

Magazine (e-zine)

Text publication details

Publisher Lallans Magazine
Part of larger text
Contained in Lallans Magazine

Text setting


Text type



Author details

Author id 19
Forenames Liz
Surname Niven
Gender Female
Decade of birth 1950
Educational attainment University
Age left school 17
Occupation Writer
Place of birth Glasgow
Region of birth Glasgow
Birthplace CSD dialect area Gsw
Country of birth Scotland
Place of residence Dumfries
Region of residence E & Mid Dumfries
Residence CSD dialect area Dmf
Country of residence Scotland
Father's occupation Gardener
Father's place of birth Glasgow
Father's region of birth Glasgow
Father's birthplace CSD dialect area Gsw
Father's country of birth Scotland
Mother's occupation Seamstress
Mother's place of birth Glasgow
Mother's region of birth Glasgow
Mother's birthplace CSD dialect area Gsw
Mother's country of birth Scotland


Language Speak Read Write Understand Circumstances
English Yes Yes Yes Yes Work / home
French Yes Yes Yes Yes With French people / films
Scots Yes Yes Yes Yes Work / home