The 'Dunnett Siege of Malta'

An international five-day gathering to celebrate the life and work of the acclaimed Scottish author, Dorothy Dunnett, opens tomorrow at Le Meridien Phoenicia in Floriana. Some 100 visitors from Britain, America, Canada, Australia, France, Ireland, and Germany will attend a conference, lectures, and visits throughout Malta and Gozo where the sites mentioned by Dunnett in her best selling historical novel The Disorderly Knights will be examined.

The 'Dunnett Siege of Malta' ends on Thursday with a gala dinner at the Inquisitor's Palace in Vittoriosa. The building has a particular meaning for the visitors since it was used at the time of the Dragut raid of 1551, when the novel is set.

The highlight of the programme will be a visit to Fort St Angelo, where the group will be guided by the Knight in Residence, Fra John Critien.

The conference has been organised by Simon Hedges (from England) and Cindy Byrne (from Ireland), who came up with the idea after visiting Malta in 1999 and began preparations last year after the previous international gathering in New Orleans.

Simon and Cindy fell in love with the island and knew that Malta had the infrastructure and business ethos necessary to suit their requirements. With the help of Ray Cassar, from Heritage Malta, they were able to plan a gathering that will make the utmost of the island's rich cultural history.

Dorothy Dunnett (1923-2001), originally from Fife but raised in Edinburgh, was described by The Washington Post as the greatest living writer of historical fiction and is perhaps best appreciated for her six-book series The Lymond Chronicles, which follow the career of a 16th century Scottish aristocrat and mercenary, Francis Crawford.

The Disorderly Knights is the third book in the series, where Crawford joins the Knights of the Order of St John as they try to save the islands from Dragut and the armies of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.

The Dunnett Websites include information on the heritage, culture and way of life of the Maltese people of the past and present. ;

For more information on the 'Dunnett Siege of Malta' e-mail

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