The Origin of Elspeth Duff’s Name

Someone asked about the origin of Elspeth’s name. I spent a long time finding the right name for Elspeth Duff. I wanted the name to be Scottish. I played with the name Elizabeth because if we had a daughter (we had a son) she would have been called Elizabeth. Elspeth, of course, is the Scottish form of Elizabeth. In A Secret in Singapore Elspeth discusses this with her friend Sarah Brixton. At first I wanted Elspeth’s surname to be MacDuff but somehow Elspeth Duff sounded better. Her name was born.

I am amazed so many people have asked about the name. There are many Duffs around, even a real Elspeth Duff.

Some people like the name Elspeth Duff; others don’t. That is one drawback of being an author–you leave yourself open to all sorts of criticism.

If you ever visit Pitlochry in Perthshire, you will find a statue honouring Sir Alexander Duff, a 19th century missionary and philanthropist. Perthshire and more particularly the Loch Ranch area was the home of my Scottish ancestors. If you have read my books, you will know this is where Elspeth grew up.