Dorothy Margaret Paulin was the daughter of John McBurnie, Sheriff-Clerk of Dumfriesshire, born on 3rd February 1904 in Dumfries, where she grew up. Her education was carried out at Dumfries Academy and boarding school, and at the University of Edinburgh, from where she graduated with an M.A. and a B.Com. Her first job was in a solicitor’s office, but her life’s work, and her writing, developed within the field of agriculture and country matters. She edited the Gallovidian Annual from 1926 to 1936, the Soil Association Magazine, and Scottish Home and Country, the magazine of the Scottish WRI. She was Scottish Representative on the board of the Soil Association and was on the board of the Association for the Protection of Rural Scotland. Her expertise was put to use during the Second World War when she was Liaison Officer for the Department of Agriculture for Scotland.
Paulin spent holiday time in her youth exploring the countryside of Dumfriesshire, or on the family farm near Dunscore. Her poetry must have developed from the same passion for the countryside which fuelled her campaigning on country and environmental issues. From the eponymous poem of her first collection, Country Gold (1936) through poems in English and Scots in her other books, the landscape of Galloway features, as well as stories of Mary Queen of Scots, and verse expressing Paulin’s own Christian faith.
A review of The Wan Water in The Times Literary Supplement of January 6, 1940 points out that though Paulin can sometimes ‘weaken the force of her verse by too loose and lavish description’, in the best of the poems the concentration is stronger. The review ends:
But she reveals in all she writes a rich and responsive sensibility and real grace of expression.
Dorothy Margaret Paulin died in 1982.