Born Jessie Grant McDonald in a workhouse in Inverness, Jessie spent her early childhood in an Elgin slum. Aged 10, she was taken from her mother and put into an orphanage for the next six years.
After school, a period of varied jobs and accommodation led to a nervous breakdown and a year in Aberdeen Royal Mental Hospital.
An unpublished manuscript detailing Kesson's childhood in the orphanage.
'It took me a day or so to get over the fact that a door would open when I simply turned the knob!'
At 19, Jessie was 'boarded out' (or fostered) from the hospital to an old woman near Loch Ness. She rejoiced in her freedom and the beauty of her new surroundings.
During this time, she met Johnnie Kesson, her future husband. They had two children and moved to London in the 1950s.
A handwritten manuscript, believed to be part of an unpublished account of Jessie's early adulthood.
Marriage and work
Kesson held a wide variety of jobs, including Woolworth's shop assistant, life model, BBC Radio producer, drama teacher, and working night shifts in a children's care home.
She worked full-time until she was 60 years old, and continued her writing career throughout this time. By the 1950s, Kesson was regularly published in Scottish periodicals and had written several radio plays.
Kesson gathered a number of notable friends throughout her life, including publishers, agents and fellow writers. Her friends included Nan Shepherd, Flora Garry, Lisa St Aubin de Terán, Cecil Day Lewis and Neil Gunn. She also maintained many lifelong friendships from her early days in north-east Scotland.
She died in 1994, and her ashes were scattered with her husband's on the banks of Loch Ness near where they first met.
Items relating to Jessie Kesson's life were on display in 'Jessie Kesson: "The sma perfect"', at the Library from 22 September until 25 November 2016.