AN AMERICAN author is bringing the story of a Borders heroine to life in her first novel.

After first visiting the region in 2014, author and historian Patricia Bernstein was inspired to share the story of Winifred Maxwell, the Countess of Nithsdale.

In 1716 Winifred saved her husband from the Tower of London where he was due to be executed – and this story inspired Patricia to write her first novel, A Noble Cunning: The Countess and the Tower.

READ MORE: Borders manor house could be demolished according to council report

She said: “The seminal moment [of our trip] was our tour of Traquair House where our guide told us the story of Winifred Maxwell’s rescue of her husband from the Tower of London the night before his scheduled execution.

“I just couldn’t get her amazing story out of my mind.”

She added: “We were back last September. This time we got to spend a night at Traquair.

“And we had a wonderful visit in Dumfries and Galloway, tracking down the location of the Terregles estate of the Maxwells.

“Winifred and William were relatives of the family living at Traquair, but their own estate was Terregles, not far from Dumfries.

“The tower house where Winifred and William lived is long gone, as is the house built around 1800 after the tower house was torn down.

“But still it meant a great deal to me, after being so close to Winifred’s story for so long, to see the fields and trees and the vistas where Winifred and William lived with their children before they were forced to flee Scotland forever.”

READ MORE: Summer cricket scheme hopes to introduce youngsters to the sport

Patricia decided that as the Maxwell family had already written a non-fiction book on Winifred, she would take on the task to dramatise her story of bravery.

Patricia said: “I had already published three non-fiction books and hadn’t thought I would write fiction.

“But a descendant of the Maxwells, Flora Maxwell Stuart, mother of the present Laird of Traquair, had already written a splendid biography of Winifred Maxwell, so I didn’t think there was a need for another one.

“It occurred to me that it would be exciting to try to dramatize Winifred’s amazing story in a work of fiction.”

READ MORE: Borders distillery to unveil new liqueur for charity close to founders' hearts

Patricia, who is a native of Texas, said she hopes A Noble Cunning will share the story of a Borders heroine with a new audience.

She said: “I hope my novel will help in some way to make Winifred Maxwell and her courageous accomplishment better known and celebrated. I see her as a true feminist hero, and it also delights me that she did what she did with the help of her women friends.

"I hope that the Borders folks will enjoy the novel as a good read and will also gain a new appreciation of their local heroine."

READ MORE: 'Environmental vandalism': Government overrules Borders council quarry decision

Although Patricia's next novel is set in England, she said she would relish the chance to spend more time in Scotland on future projects.

A Noble Cunning: The Countess and the Tower is available to buy as an ebook, paperback and hardback from Amazon.

For more information on Patricia Bernstein, visit: