Alumni Services

October 2019

Books on Edinburgh's New Town, voice quality and a murder mystery are included in this month's alumni-penned selection.


Author Donald Adamson

English Language and Literature; Applied Linguistics

Book All Coming Back

Poetic meditations on the third age of life, considered ironically, humorously, and poignantly. The poems draw on the personal past of growing up in Scotland, the deeper past of the First World War, and the present, of life in Finland. The poems are illustrated by Dumfries artist and designer Hugh Bryden. A bilingual edition with Finnish translations is also available.

All Coming Back



Aurora Betony

Degree Arts

Dyslexia-friendly Churches

This guide is for everyone in churches.  It explains what dyslexia is and why churches have to include dyslexic adults.  It also suggests things churches can do to include dyslexic adults, and signposts to further information.  It is available to download.

Dowload: Dyslexia-friendly Churches


Author Benjamin Dahlbeck
Degree Creative Writing

Mountain Murder Mystery

The Severn family—Jeff and his wife Phyllis, Lynette and her new fiancé, and single Andy—has gathered at the mountain home of their grandmother, Mary Agnes Severn, to celebrate Thanksgiving and hear an announcement regarding their late grandfather’s will. With news of an escaped convict in the hills, everyone is barely settled in before a huge snowstorm strands them in the large old house with only gas lamps and lanterns to keep the darkness away.

Local sheriff Roger Dickerson arrives to check on the family and seek shelter from the storm. Sparks fly between him and Andy as long-held passions bubble just under the surface, but before they can address them, Mary Agnes’s three servants are murdered one by one. Who is the murderer? Is it the escaped convict? Is it someone in the house? Everyone has a motive, and everyone has the means. What’s going on between Andy and Marcus the handyman? What’s going on between Phyllis and Marcus? Is there something going on between Roger and Marcus? It’s (snow)bound to be a wild week of murder, mystery, and mayhem!

Mountain Murder Mystery


Author Clarisse Godard Desmarest
Degree PhD Scottish History
Bookt The New Town of Edinburgh: An Architectural Celebration

This collection of innovative essays celebrates the New Town of Edinburgh over the 250 years since its original creation. The contributing authors discuss the intellectual, economic and political contexts which provided the impetus for the city of Edinburgh to expand north of the Old Town, and analyse the New Town’s unique architectural status in terms of its size, monumentality and degree of preservation. For centuries, Scotland has pursued innovation, improvement, commerce and contact with England and the Continent; and since medieval times it has been an urbanising land of planned towns. This book reflects on the constantly changing dialogue between Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns, from the eighteenth century to the present time, as the city became increasingly commercialised. It also compares Edinburgh’s New Town with more recent new towns elsewhere, notably nineteenth-century Dunedin in New Zealand and Scotland’s planned new-town movement of the twentieth century. The age of conservation is another of the central themes.

By drawing on different approaches to the new town phenomenon in Scotland, this volume pays tribute to Scotland’s vibrant capital, and offers insights into new research on Scotland’s urban development.

The New Town of Edinburgh: An Architectural Celebration



Author John H. Esling
Degree Linguistics (Phonetics)
Book Voice Quality: The Laryngeal Articulator Model

This book is not only the first comprehensive phonetic description of voice quality in 40 years (the range of sound qualities that languages can produce), it also remaps the human vocal tract itself, revealing how articulations are shaped deep in the throat, within the Laryngeal Articulator. Detailed drawings illustrate how the adult, child, and newborn vocal tracts are configured to produce sounds. Based on detailed experimental observations of the larynx, the book changes our understanding of the role and function of the larynx in speech, singing, first language acquisition, voice pathology, and language evolution. Instrumental techniques to observe deep-throat speech production in the languages of the world include laryngeal endoscopy, ultrasound, cineradiography, and MRI. New diagrams are provided for computational simulations of voice production. Free companion media (audio and video files of speech sound production across the world) can be found on the book’s Cambridge Core website (under Resources). The voice qualities of popular personalities, actors, voice artists, singers, announcers, and public and media figures are referenced and analysed to show where speech sounds come from and why they sound the way they do. The way that infants learn to produce speech sounds is also described, with over 100 audio recordings of infants in their first year of life to illustrate how speech emerges. The rehabilitation of voice disorders and the effects of surgery on the voice are illustrated with new medical drawings and videos. The ‘two-part’ vocal tract model also accounts more clearly for the role of the larynx in the origins of spoken language in our species and in ongoing sound change.

Update: In January 2021, the book received the prestigious Leonard Bloomfield Book Award from the Linguistic Society of America.

Voice Quality: The Laryngeal Articulator Model

John Esling's alumni profile


Author Denis McErlane
Degree Fine Art
Book Interesting Backgrounds: Neglected aspects of famous paintings

A slightly unusual “take” on the history of painting in Europe and North America, “Interesting Backgrounds: Neglected aspects of famous paintings” is a collection of fascinating background details from well-known paintings, with brief notes about the artist and their work and hand-drawn illustrations by the author of the original selected images.

When we look at a famous painting, we inevitably concentrate on the central figure, event or theme of the picture. But in traditional realist painting, the subject is presented in a specific context  -  which may vary from a simple coloured surface or shadow to an involved and detailed space. Of course, this space has been chosen to support and explain further the meaning of the picture. So, at the end of the day, a background is just that  -  a background. Yet in many great paintings, that background, when isolated and looked at as an image in itself, can often reveal a further level of thinking on the part of the artist that might easily be overlooked in a casual, or too literal reading of the image.

Interesting Backgrounds: Neglected aspects of famous paintings


Author David J Randall
Degree Arts, Divinity

Come and Behold Him: Christmas through different eyes

The book looks at the familiar events of the Christmas story through the eyes of (among others) Micah and Isaiah who foretold it, Anna and Simeon who witnessed it, and Paul and John who reflected on it. Instead of looking at Christmas through commercial, cynical or sentimental eyes, the book invites the reader to look again at the story of the birth of the Son of God as a baby.

Come and Behold Him: Christmas through different eyes


Author David Francis Urrows
Degree Music

Keys to the Kingdom: A History of the Pipe Organ in China

Keys to the Kingdom: A History of the Pipe Organ in China is a music-historical study – a detailed account of the title’s organological subject running over four centuries.

Beginning at the start of the China Roman Catholic mission around 1600, passing through the contentious Rites Controversy of the Eighteenth century, the explosive era of the Opium Wars and the high-water mark of mission activity  in the later Nineteenth century, to the destruction of all of China’s pipe organs by 1950, and the strange renaissance of pipe organ culture in the past twenty years, Prof. David Francis Urrows weaves musical narrative together with political history in an extended exercise in histoire croisée; an ‘entangled history’ in which the pipe organ is caught as both a musical instrument, a cultural and religious symbol,  and a technological marvel.

Keys to the Kingdom: A History of the Pipe Organ in China

Your book

If you are a member of the alumni community and have recently published a book, we would be delighted to include it in the Alumni Bookshelf. Email the information, along with your degree details, to Brian Campbell:

Email Brian Campbell

Please note

Books are added to the bookshelf in order of submission. All of the further information links listed are the external websites of the book publisher, the author, or the bookseller. The University of Edinburgh is not responsible for the content and functionality of these sites.