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Fiction by Care Experienced authors

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The White Bird Passes

Jessie Kesson


Jessie Kesson (1916-1994) was the illegitimate child of a woman who lived in the tenements of Glasgow and, through poverty, drifted into casual prostitution. Jessie was taken into care and brought up in orphanages while her mother died slowly and painfully of syphilis. The White Bird Passes (1958) is set in the backstreets of a Scottish city in the 1920s, The autobiographical novel is the unforgettable story of a young girl growing up in ‘the Lane’. Poor, crowded and dirty – but full of life and excitement – the Lane is the only home Janie MacVean has ever known. It is a place where, despite everything, Janie is happy. But when the Cruelty Man arrives, bringing with him the threat of the dreaded ‘home’ – the orphanage that is every child’s nightmare – Janie’s contented childhood seems to be at an end. A gritty and moving portrayal of a young girl facing up to hardship and deprivation, written with warmth, humour and insight, Jessie Kesson’s classic autobiographical novel is widely regarded as her finest work.

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