Following In The Footsteps Of A “Friend” Legend

William C. Honeyman

Recently, I had an away day out of the office with Margaret from the “Friend” team and Barry from D.C. Thomson’s archives department.

The reason? To follow in the footsteps of one of the most intriguing characters associated with the “Friend” in its 150-year history.

The imposing semi-detached house in the photograph is in the Fife village of Newport. It was once the home of William C. Honeyman, a talented writer, editor and musician. From it, he commuted across the River Tay to the “Friend” offices in Dundee where he was a member of staff for many years.

A Real Character

When the “Friend” team were researching the magazine’s history for our Special Collector’s Edition, William C. Honeyman really captured our imagination. Born in 1845, he was an expert violin player as well as a prolific author. He was responsible for creating one of the first ever detectives in the crime fiction genre. And we are pretty sure he influenced a certain Arthur Conan Doyle to create the character of Sherlock Holmes . . .

Violin Man, as we affectionately refer to him, died on April 14, 1919. When we realised that the centenary of his death was fast approaching, we wanted to pay our own tribute. And so Margaret, Barry and I went in search of his last resting place in a cemetery overlooking the river at Tayport in Fife.

An Emotional Experience

Finding his headstone was an emotional experience. We laid flowers and took a few moments to remember this larger-than-life character who had such an influence on the “Friend”.

We noticed that the scroll pattern on the headstone was reminiscent of the shape of a violin – a lovely touch.

Afterwards we drove the mile or so down the road to Newport to complete our journey by finding Honeyman’s home. And there, we spotted another nice detail. His house still carries the name he  bestowed on it over a hundred years ago. Cremona Villa is, of course, named after the Italian town famous for violin making.

How perfectly lovely.

Angela Gilchrist

Angela is Former Editor-in-Chief of “The People’s Friend” magazine. Her passions include cats, Highland ponies, good books, vegetarian food and long walks in the Scottish countryside. Her favourite place to get away from it all is the magical Isle of Skye.