Anne Browning/Don Ledingham

I was at a dinner recently where people were talking about writers who tried to write from the opposite gender’s perspective, i.e. a man writing as woman or a woman writing as a man.

It reminded me that it will be nearly two years since I created a fictitious blog under the name of Anne Browning entitled the Dominie’s Chronicle 

I wanted to examine how our education system might respond to an outbreak of H5N1 (bird flu) and was particularly interested to find out if the system could maintain itself against a backdrop where the bureaucracy and management structures were destroyed.

Without planning the story I let it unfold in a series of almost daily posts where I imagined myself as a female teacher in Edinburgh – I’d selected a female character as I didn’t want anyone to guess who was behind the project and also to try to explore the situation from a completely different perspective. At its height there were over 300 people a day logging on to follow the story but I eventually ran out of steam .  Looking back I don’t think I carried it off very well – some of the scenarios and actions were dubious to say the least.  Nevertheless, some of the things I explored about shared management, the role of schools in our communities, and trying to think from a woman’s point of view all made quite an impact upon me – even if my writing was a bit “clunky”.

For a three month period in my life I lived another identity and tried to imagine what it would have been like to live under such circumstances

You can perhaps imagine my reaction in April of this year when I opened a newspaper in Hong Kong on my way to New Zealand to find out that the flu pandemic had actually started.  Now that was definitely a case of having too much knowledge!!

4 thoughts on “Anne Browning/Don Ledingham

  1. I used to be one of the 300 followers! One of the first blogs I ever followed. Always thought it was well written and thought provoking. Your post today takes me back!

  2. Well, you had me fooled! I recall the first time I became aware of cross-gender writing – a short story on the radio by Cynthia Rogerson, from the point of view of a father whose daughter has gone missing. I was really surprise when the credits rolled at the end of the reading. Can I ask, what steps did you take to ensure the depiction of the chosen gender, and how did it feel?

  3. I’d never have guessed that was you! And strange to say, I was thinking only last week that the story was never resolved

    Do you think it is a gender-stereotypical trait that as I began to understand that the story was becoming an exploration of alternative school structures, I was less motivated to look in every day? Though I still did keep an eye on it, it became for me, less personal, more theoretical and therefore less urgent.

    I’m not surprised you ran out of steam though. I thought when I was reading it that it demanded a fair degree of commitment to keep it up, especially if the author was working full time as it seemed.

    Thanks for providing food for thought as usual 🙂


  4. Thanks folks. I’m not sure if I carried off thinking/writing as a woman but it certainly put me in a place I’d never been before.

    Alan, I’m not sure what you mean by steps?

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