Jane Duncan

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Name: Jane Duncan (pen name)
Also Known As: Janet Sandison (pen name)
Elizabeth Jane Cameron (birth name)
Occupation: writer
Medium: print novels
Works: My Friends series; Jean Robertson series; Camerons series; Janet Reachfar series; Letter from Reachfar
Official Website(s): (deceased pre-internet)
Fan Website(s): My Friend Jane
On Fanlore: Related pages

Jane Duncan (1910-1976) was a Scottish-born mid-twentieth century author of contemporary novels for adults and children. In 1959 Jane Duncan made publishing history when Macmillan Publishers announced that it would be publishing seven of her manuscripts. She had been writing for several years, producing the first novels in her My Friends series. In all 19 novels make up this series, which was by far her most popular. At one stage public libraries normally had several copies of her books, filling more than one shelf. After she became established as an author, Jane Duncan adopted a different pseudonym - Janet Sandison - and wrote four books in the Jean Robertson series. She also began writing children’s books, producing the Camerons series for school age children and the picture-book Janet Reachfar series for pre-school children.

All of Duncan’s work drew on incidents and events from her own life. Her My Friends series, in particular, has an autobiographical ‘feel’ to it, though the fact it is only semi-autobiographical and contains considerable fiction is evident if one reads her autobiography, Letters from Reachfar, which was written at the suggestion of her publisher. Recurring themes within Duncan's work include social change, class differences, gender roles in society, morality, life and death, parent-child relationships, friendship and loyalty, and the nature of love and marriage. Her own personal experiences as a white woman in Jamaica as it made the transition to self-government led to recurring themes about race relations and ethnicity which are particularly evident in the later My Friends novels.


There is a LiveJournal community for Jane Duncan discussion and fanfic, "My Friend Jane" (official title: My Friends - the Jane Duncan LJ). Although it was created in April 2007 ‘on impulse’ by inaforest, apart from a handful of posts, it was quite inactive. In July 2008 fawatson (blog) joined as co-moderator and the two embarked on a programme to revitalise the community. This involved:

  • Posting pictures of book covers for the novels to the community
  • Posting resources to the community about the life and times of the author and the period she wrote about
  • Creating links between the LJ community and websites with information about Jane Duncan
  • Searching LJ to find members who appeared to have an interest in Jane Duncan and inviting them to join the community
  • Creating and posting a series of book-related icons for community members

The community remains small, and is not terribly active. Nonetheless, as of January 2011 it had 27 members and over 100 posts had been made to it.

Centenary Celebrations

2010 was the 100th anniversary of Jane Duncan’s birth; and there was a celebration in Cromarty to mark this. Information about various celebration events (including the showing of a film based on one of the Camerons novels) was posted to the LiveJournal fan community.[1]

Many of Jane Duncan’s books are out of print. Fans were extremely pleased when My Friends the Miss Boyds was reprinted in 2010.[2] Since then, gradually, most of her My Friends series has been reissued in paperback. Apart from this only her picture books remain in print.

Book Discussions

  • Between July 2008 and September 2008 the fan community held its first formal book discussion, focusing on My Friend Muriel [3]
  • From February 2009 to March 2009 the community moderators organised a second book discussion focusing, this time, on My Friends the Miss Boyds [4]
  • From July 2009 to August 2009 the community organised a discussion around some recurring and important characters in the My Friends series, rather than about any specific novel, starting with George and Tom,[5] and continuing with Duncan Sandison,[6] Elizabeth Sandison,[7] and Grannie.[8]

None of the formally structured and led book discussions has resulted in widespread involvement by fans. However, there have been several spontaneous posts discussing different aspects of the books made by fans. For example:

(need to add links)


Although "My Friend Jane" has said it welcomes fanfiction, thus far none has been posted to it.

In 2009 and 2010, the "My Friends" series and "Jean Robertson" were nominated to Yuletide fandom list. However, on both occasions no one except the person who nominated them offered to write in these fandoms and so, in the end, no requests were made for fic based on these series.

In 2013, the "Jean Robertson" series ('Jean in the Morning' and its three sequels) was nominated to the rarewomen 2013 fandom list. One story was written in response, the first fanfic based on this series known to be published anywhere, and since then two further stories have been written:


  1. ^ "Jane Duncan centenary celebrations".
  2. ^ "Launch at Waterstone's Inverness 24 June 2010".
  3. ^ "Timetable for the Book Discussion".
  4. ^ "Another Book Discussion to Start!".
  5. ^ "Book Discussion Starts!".
  6. ^ "Discussion Starts about My Father".
  7. ^ "And So to Mother".
  8. ^ "Finally...Grannie!".
  9. ^ "Jean in the Dark" by greerwatson, as archived on A03 as part of the rarewomen 2013 fanfic exchange.] Accessed 07 May 2013.
  10. ^ "Jean in the Forenoon" by greewatson, as archived on A03 as part of the rarewomen 2014 fanfic exchange.] Accessed 01 July 2016.
  11. ^ "Jean at the Witching Hour" by greerwatson, as archived on A03 as part of the myoldfandom 2016 fanfic exchange.] Accessed 01 July 2016.