Source and activity 1: Location

Grandfather with grandson
Scene from film adaptation of
'A twelvemonth and a day'.

Setting the scene

Christopher Rush sets his book 'A twelvemonth and a day' in a fishing village in Fife. He takes inspiration from his own childhood recollections of people and places.

Drawing on the rich cultural and industrial heritage of the community he taps into his memory, experiences and imagination to paint a unique portrait or, setting for his work. This provides the tone for the rest of the story.

How important is location?

In many books, the scene or location can almost take the shape of a separate character, influencing the characters and plot. In 'A twelvemonth and a day', the setting or location is likewise, the foundation on which all the characters are drawn against.

Village funeral
Wake scene from
film adaptation.

Although it can be said that the setting is uniquely Scottish, there are universal elements in the book which many people around the world have connected with.

The two depictions of working life in Source 6 also present an interesting contrast of how location can be interpreted.

In this video, Rush explains how the setting he grew up in, influenced 'A twelvemonth and a day'.

You can also read a transcript of this video.

Questions for discussion

  • Why do you think such a Scottish setting and story would appeal to a global audience? How easy would it be to find parallels between St Monans and a fishing village in, for example, Sri Lanka or Vladivostok?
  • In the video, Rush describes certain episodes that he recalled vividly and influenced the writing in 'A twelvemonth and a day'. What are these and why would they make such an impact on a young boy?
  • Thinking about settings or events that you are able to recall from your own childhood, pick out the most vivid scenes and write about them. How would you aim to give readers who have never been there a real sense of what your location is like? What would the themes for your story be? Think about the sounds, smells, faces, people, places.

Literacy and English experiences and outcomes: LIT4-04a; LIT 4-05a; LIT 4-07a; LIT 4-15a; LIT 4-19a.

Source and activity 2



Themes in focus — Christopher Rush


Christopher Rush in the Library's collections

For information on how to access the Christopher Rush archive, see our Manuscripts enquiry page.


Ordnance Survey 1957 map of St Monans and surrounding area including the old railway line.


A wide collection of other xmaps of the East Neuk of Fife are also available to view on the Maps of Scotland sheet viewer.


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