Catherine Carswell’s ‘Open the Door!’ – Republishing a Rebel

Publishing By Degrees

Catherine Carswell was a badass. Both personally and professionally she dealt with more than her fair share of strife. In her time, Carswell became well-known for her biography of Robert Burns, but not for the right reasons. Carswell’s biography was controversial – unlike previous works which praised and worshipped Burns, Carswell’s account of his life was frank and honest, detailing his faults and affairs. For this she received huge backlash from the many fans of Burns who rejected this portrayal, attacking her with sermons and apparently going as far as sending her bullets to use upon herself. So that was fun.

Personally, Carswell had faced turmoil from her first marriage to a war veteran named Herbert Jackson. They married very early in their relationship, only for Carswell to later discover that he suffered incredibly from paranoia – thinking himself sterile, Herbert accused his wife of betrayal when she announced her pregnancy…

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