SHE remains one of the most remarkable women to hail from the North East of Scotland and now Lorna Moon’s stories are being brought to life in a new production of Doorways in Drumorty, by playwright and author Mike Gibb, who co-wrote Outlander, the Musical.

Moon was born Helen Nora Wilson Low, in 1886, in Strichen, Aberdeenshire, where she attended the local Episcopal school, while her mother ran the Temperance Hotel on the High Street – which was largely frequented by commercial travellers – and her father Charles worked as a plasterer.

He, however, was better known for an interest in politics and his strident socialist views. Low did not share a bed with his wife, choosing instead to spend his nights in a shed in the garden, named by a local wag as "10 Downing Street".

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His daughter, meanwhile, enjoyed the attentions of the men who stayed in the hotel and, in particular, one called William Hebditch, a Yorkshireman.

She was 21 when they married secretly in Aberdeen on Christmas Eve, 1907 and moved first to Alberta, Canada, and then to Minneapolis with their son Bill – the first of three children she gave birth to and abandoned. However, the young wife made secret plans and ran away with Walter Moon, one of her husband’s best friends, leaving her five-year-old boy behind.

She adopted Moon’s surname and in tribute to one of her great literary heroines, began to call herself Lorna.

So, at the age of 27, Lorna Moon was born.

The new couple had a daughter, Mary, who was despatched to Walter Moon’s relatives to be raised.

Lorna Moon, who began working as a journalist, was an avid movie-goer and in 1920 went to see the Cecil B DeMille film, Male and Female.

She was, however, unimpressed and wrote to the director telling him what she thought of it. Surprisingly DeMille replied, suggesting – probably tongue in cheek – that if she thought she could do better why didn’t she come to Hollywood?

Moon took him to his word, packed her bag, said goodbye to her common-law husband and headed for sunny California.

She managed to inveigle her way into DeMille’s studio where, during the 20s she became one of the highest paid female script writers in the fledgling Hollywood, penning the likes of Mr Wu, Women Love Diamonds and Love, which starred Greta Garbo.

Moon also worked with some of the other top stars of the era, including Gloria Swanson, Lon Chaney and Norma Shearer.

She had a flourishing professional life, but a car-crash of a personal one. She had an affair with DeMille’s brother William – who was married – and became pregnant.

Fearing a scandal, Cecil B DeMille sent the baby, a boy named Richard, to an orphanage, returning six months later with his wife Constance to adopt him. It was only after William DeMille died in 1955, that Richard, then aged 34, was told that the man he had known all his life as Uncle Bill was, in fact, his father.

Moon died from tuberculosis at the age of 44, but not before she wrote two books – a novel called Dark Star and a book of short stories set in the fictional Drumorty – a thinly-veiled Strichen.

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Although the names were all changed, villagers were scandalised when they were able to identify themselves amongst the characters in Doorways in Drumorty – and the book was banned in the town of her birth for half a century.

While the play is laugh-out-loud funny, it steers through a sharp, satirical observation of the personal agonies that people endured when beset by the strict observance of moral codes and prohibitions – all for the sake of outward appearances. It tells the story of Jessie McLean, who appeared destined to become a spinster when the young man with whom she fell in love left the town, leaving her alone and unfulfilled at the age of 16.

Fast-forward almost 20 years to a girl in a similar, though more extreme version of her circumstances, discovers an inner courage she uses to foil the myopia of those around her. Other village characters are depicted in a series of vignettes.

Gibb’s play was first staged 10 years ago and this updated version, produced by Awkward Stranger in association with Hame Productions. Directed by Andy Corelli, it comes in the 90th anniversary year of Moon’s Dark Star, which also provides one of the stories for the play. A pre-tour preview opens at the Debating Hall in Edinburgh’s Teviot Row House, on Tuesday, before the play goes on tour at 18 venues across Scotland.

Gibb’s theatre credits include: A Land Fit for Heroes, set around the Highland Clearances, the First World War and the rise of the Labour Party; and Lest We Forget, commissioned to mark the 20th anniversary of the Piper Alpha disaster. He said: “Although I knew of Lorna Moon’s remarkable life, my interest in her writing came from the gift of the Collected Works of Lorna Moon book.

“I enjoyed Dark Star but was enchanted by Doorways in Drumorty and the wonderful characters that the author had created.

“The question I get asked most about my stage work is: ‘When are you doing Doorways in Drumorty again?’ And I am therefore delighted that Andy Corelli has put together this amazing tour.”