Edit Magazine

The two of us

Many a lasting relationship is forged during university days, and we love to share how you met your partner or best friend.

Ian Rankin and Miranda Harvey
Ian Rankin and Miranda Harvey. Photograph: Phil Wilkinson

In this edition, our stories with happy endings include the love interest of a best-selling writer, and a range of heart-warming tales from your fellow graduates, both recent and from past decades. If you met your partner or best friend at Edinburgh and would like to share your story, email us.

Email editor.edit@ed.ac.uk

Write for each other

Ian Rankin: MA English Language and Literature 1982

Miranda Harvey: MA English Language and Literature 1981, MSc Health Promotion and Health Education 2003

Ian Rankin and Miranda Harvey

I met my wife Miranda at the University of Edinburgh in 1981, when I was in third year and she in fourth. We were both studying English Language and Literature and our two years would often meet for classes (and socially afterwards).

I remember long evenings of pub talk, usually about poetry and novels. It was very handy for me that Miranda was a year above me, as she’d already bought some of the books I needed, and had completed work I was just about to start. I probably picked her brains with more regularity than those of my tutors and lecturers.

It was a great crowd, and even the postgraduate students deigned to mix with us. A few wrote poetry but I think I was the only one who was making the move to fiction, though

I wasn’t ready to show my short stories to anyone (except possibly Miranda).

Miranda graduated in the summer of 1981, not too long after we met, but by that time we were going out together. She eventually got jobs in Belfast and then London while I finished my degree and started a PhD. In July 1986 we were married by the University of Edinburgh Chaplain at Greyfriars Kirk, and held the reception at the University’s Staff Club on Chambers Street.

Twenty-nine years later we’re still together, with two grown-up children. I still show Miranda my work before anyone else sees it – and she still wields a sharp editorial pencil! Though we grew up in very different places (she Belfast, me Cardenden), a love of literature brought us together and the University of Edinburgh made that possible.

– Ian Rankin

Cupid’s paperwork

Vincent Tao: MSc Social Anthropology 2012

Iris Lau: MSc Advancing Nursing Practice 2012

Vincent Tao and Iris Lau

We were strangers to each other four years ago. Now we are married.

I bumped into Iris four years ago at Buccleuch Place when we were processing the paperwork for our study visas. Knowing by the cover of her passport that she was also from Hong Kong, I took the courage of starting a conversation with her. We had a brief chat and exchanged numbers before parting.

Iris had classes in the Medical School, Teviot, while I spent most of the time in the Chrystal Macmillan Building.

We both lived at the eastern end of the Meadows, but life in Edinburgh kept us busy, and I only got occasional glimpses of Iris when luck allowed. Throughout our stay in Scotland, we kept in infrequent touch via Facebook.

Upon graduation, I returned home while Iris stayed for four more months in the UK. We met again after she returned to Hong Kong and a month later we started dating. In December 2014, we were married in Bali.

Edinburgh is a meaningful place to both of us, and we are planning to come back this year to spend our honeymoon, revisiting the place where we met, hand in hand.

– Vincent Tao

Smitten in the reading room

Ian M Fraser: MA General 1939, BD 1942

Margaret DD Stewart: MA General 1941, Dip Ed 1942

Ian M Fraser and Margaret D D Stewart

When the family assembled for my 90th birthday a few years ago (it comprises now three children, nine grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren – a lovely human treasury) I tried to convey the relationship of Margaret and me: the fun we had together; how hard we worked together; and what risks we took together. Everything was in the togetherness.

The University of Edinburgh played a significant part. On top of my MA I was working for the Bachelor of Divinity in New College (the PhD was to come later).

I have always appreciated a larger company of friends than was provided by a particular discipline.

For study work I would frequent the Old Quad reading rooms. In the Upper Reading Room a fair-haired lass returned a book. She turned to go back. I was smitten.

Margaret Stewart married me in 1943. The photo shows us on honeymoon on Iona – I had been a member of the Iona Community [the ecumenical Christian community established in 1938] since 1941.

Margaret found scope for her many gifts e.g. as a warm and welcoming hostess in Scottish Churches House, in Dunblane, as a member of the team of Femmes Pasteurs [women pastors] in Geneva, and heading Tools for Self-Reliance, the charity working to reduce poverty in Africa, when we were in Selly Oak Colleges. She died of a second cancer in 1987.

– Ian M Fraser

Silver hair, twinkling eyes

Pat Morris (nee Yelland): BVMS 1963

Gordon Morris: BVMS 1937

Morris family

As a 17-year-old new veterinary student at the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, in 1957, I was allocated my “regent” – a member of staff who would be my “guide, philosopher and friend” whilst I spent the next five years as a student.

As I lived at home in Edinburgh, I thought I wouldn’t need to bother my regent, but I met him on my very first day at university.

I was one of six female vet students and had 50 fellow male students to choose from! My regent turned up a little late. He was short and stocky with silver hair and had the most twinkling blue eyes I’d ever seen. He was senior reader in anatomy and embryology and as such would teach me during my first year.

He was a widower with no children and his only “encumbrances” were an elderly peke and a very wicked stepmother. And yes he was two years older than my father.

Over the next four years I got to know him very well – he lived in a village 20 miles away and I enjoyed his company so much I spent many a happy hour at weekends helping to weed the cottage garden, listening to music and going trout fishing with him.

I never thought of him as any older than me – we had so much in common and he had a very young outlook and was most certainly not a father figure.

Eventually during my fourth year as a student, we became engaged, and were ready for any jokes or criticism that might come our way – but none did. Staff and students alike were delighted for us.

We married in my Baptist church in Edinburgh the Christmas before my finals in 1962 and spent our honeymoon in our little cottage, snowed in.

I passed my finals in June and became what I had wanted to be from the age of six, a real vet.

We were blessed with a daughter in 1964 and later a son in 1966 and Gordon proved to be a wonderful dad to them. I spent the next 40 years or so with my own small animal practice – always helped and advised by Gordon (and the children) and we had a wide variety of pets: dogs, cats, a donkey, and the usual rabbits, guinea-pigs and hamsters.

We had 20 very happy years together and when he died in 1982 after a short illness, I knew I had lost my best friend and soul-mate, but was so grateful for the 20 years we shared.

– Pat Morris

Pupae pick-up

Enid Cruickshank (nee Haddon): BSc Zoology 1962

Arthur Cruickshank: BSc Zoology 1958

Crash! Ten o’clock at night and I dropped a set of test tubes on the corridor floor beneath the incubator in the Zoology department. Desperately scrabbling around trying to retrieve all my little ichneumonid pupae I became conscious of Arthur, a new staff member and also an Edinburgh graduate, coming up and asking to help.

Gratefully received – if not all were located I would have been unpopular with everyone else working on blowfly, as these parasites would have ruined their experiments. I accepted his offer of a lift home and that was the start of a long life together, as we married a year later.

My fellow students were shocked when he appeared at our graduation with my parents as although

he’d been a regular visitor to our lab we had managed to keep the romance very quiet.

We travelled the world, living in Johannesburg for many years: he was palaeontologist and fossils are plentiful there.

Eventually living in the English Midlands where I was a librarian in Rugby, he found plenty of fossils in nearby museums, which eventually led us to visiting New Zealand and Australia with return visits to South Africa.

Sadly he died just before his 80th birthday and our 50th wedding anniversary but we were very proud that both our sons are graduates of Edinburgh following my family tradition, as both my father and grandfather were also graduates.

– Enid Cruickshank