About the Book
Mark Simmons, aged 42, is a teacher at a training college. His wife has just walked out on him because she has found him so much less interesting than she expected the man she married to be. This event, which he has by no means expected, has jolted him into a major reassessment of himself, of his place in the universe. He realises that he has become bitter, cynical and disillusioned: he is a failure intellectually - he wanted to be a writer, but for years he has striven at one book, which he privately knows to be not very good.
He is a failure as a teacher - he wasn't competent enough to obtain a post at a university. He is a failure as a husband, because his wife was daily moving away from him. He is a failure as a father, because he and his wife had had no children. Above all, he is a failure as a human being, because he despises everybody, not least himself. Mark Simmons hates himself for being more concerned with argument than happiness. My Last Duchess is a novel of great resourcefulness and energy.
Iain Crichton Smith (1928 – 1998) was born in Glasgow, brought up on Lewis, and attended university in Aberdeen. After working as a teacher in Clydebank and Dumbarton, he taught at the High School in Oban until he took early retirement in 1977. He was the recipient of many literary awards and received an OBE in 1980. His widow, Donalda, still lives in Taynuilt, where the couple moved after their marriage in 1977.