A PLAY telling the story of an historic Musselburgh woman who survived her planned execution is being developed by a graduate of the town’s university.

Maggie Knows Best, which it is hoped will be part of next year’s Edinburgh Fringe, is based on a real story about the life of Maggie Dickson.

She lived in Musselburgh in the 1700s and was known for surviving her own hanging, after having a baby out of wedlock.

She was accused of concealing the pregnancy and then the baby, and was sentenced to hang.

Miraculously, she survived her planned execution and the court had to let her go, as her punishment was to be hanged, not to ‘die’ by hanging; she became known as ‘Half Hangit Maggie’.

Rebecca Lannery graduated from Musselburgh’s Queen Margaret University with a first-class honours degree in theatre and film and was also awarded funding from the university to write and develop her own play.

Rebecca, 22, put her theatrical skills to good use while she was a student, working as a guide for the Mary King’s Close experience.

It was her work with the popular historic tourist attraction on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile that developed her interest in Maggie.

Rebecca said: “Maggie was an extraordinary Musselburgh woman and it’s an extraordinary local story which I got hooked on and wanted to tell.

“I am so grateful to the Vice Chancellor’s Fund at Queen Margaret University, which is supporting me with a grant to develop the play and pitch it to the Edinburgh Fringe.

“I am really excited about bringing the story to the stage and potentially presenting it to an international audience.

“I would also love to showcase it to an East Lothian audience.

“I feel passionately about sharing the true story about the plight of women in Scotland’s past, and the cruelty that was inflicted on them because of societal norms.”

Rebecca, originally from Lesmahagow, told the Courier how she enjoyed her time at Queen Margaret University.

She said: “The thing I am most grateful for is the enormous support I received from my lecturers and programme leader, who stuck by me every day of the four years. They helped make me the person I am today, and steer me to the fulfilling career I want to have in the creative industries.

“I am overjoyed that the university is continuing to support me after graduation and allowing me to bring this strong local character to the attention of both local and international audiences.”