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Delight as Donna’s book is reissued

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By Christie Breen
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Delight as Donna’s book is reissued

A BOOK first written to right a wrong has been reissued by the Galloway author working with a Wigtownshire publisher.

The House that Sugar Built was first published in 1999 after eight years of extensive research by author Donna Brewster who had come across the story of one of her home’s previous owners.

Born in the US, Donna had come to Wigtownshire in the late 1960s, marrying a local doctor in 1969, and settling permanently in the region. Their second home was a large house on Station Road, Wigtown then called Dunure, but it had previously been known as Barbados Villa and had been built in the Caribbean style.

Whilst going through old records Donna was surprised to find that whilst many of Wigtown’s prominent houses were mentioned, her home was oddly absent, despite it being one of the most substantial 19th century villas.

When gathering research Donna was informed that a woman of colour had once lived in Dunure during the Victorian period. Further research revealed her to be Margaret McGuffie and she was found in every census but one to the end of the century.

Donna said: “Her father John McGuffie was well remembered in the town, but not Margaret though she lived for the rest of her life in the house.

“I was angry that she had been written out, that people still remained tight-lipped about Dunure compared to other houses in the town. I wanted her story to be known, for Margaret to be remembered.”

The author began eight years of research to find the story, a journey that would take her to Barbados where Margaret was born and where her father had made his fortune as a merchant, forming a relationship with a woman of slave heritage.

Donna’s travels also included Liverpool, Penrith and London where she consulted the Nigerian Embassy about the tribal heritage of Margaret’s ancestors who suffered in the slave trade.

The original book was published to acclaim, and was featured in a documentary series about Scotland’s link to the slave trade.

The new edition of the book has been published by Second Sands Publishing, an imprint of Wigtown company Foggie Toddle Books. Owner Jayne Baldwin said: “This edition has gone back to the original manuscript and the cover features an original drawing of the house. We were delighted that Donna was invited to launch the book at the Wigtown Book Festival.”

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