Margaret Tait, filmmaker and poet, was born in Orkney in 1918. She trained first as a medical doctor before studying film in Rome in the 1950s. After returning to Edinburgh, Tait established her film studio, Ancona Films, before eventually returning to Orkney in the 1960s, where she lived and continued to make films until her death in 1999. Personae is Tait’s previously unpublished non-fiction manuscript edited by Sarah Neely with a selection of photographs from Margaret Tait’s personal archive with a foreword by Ali Smith and beautifully designed by Maeve Redmond.
“‘In the beginning was the word. What beginning? What word?’ Trust the Orcadian filmmaker, poet and writer, the uncategorisable Margaret Tait, to ask the real questions. This book in your hands began in answer to some publishers readers critiques Tait received on her novel The Lilywhite Boys. This was a work, as yet unpublished, which she wrote over the immediate postwar years about her time in India in the Second World War, when she served as a medic in the Royal Army Medical Corps – a work concerning her “experience” there. The quote marks round the word are hers, because everything in this book, and everything in Tait’s work across its different forms, asks questions about what experience is, and what happens when you start to call something an “experience”.’ — Ali Smith, from the foreword to Personae
Edited and introduced by Sarah Neely with a foreword by Ali Smith