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Letters reveal Donald Trump’s mother’s journey from Western Isles to the White House

President Donald Trump  (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

She was the mother of the most powerful – and controversial – man in the world.

Now letters between Mary Anne MacLeod and her penpal have shone a fascinating light on the woman who became Donald Trump’s mum.

The president has spoken little about Mary Anne MacLeod, who emigrated to America from the Isle of Lewis.

A documentary uncovers Mary’s past and speaks to family friends who recall the type of woman she was.

Trump’s Mother – The Mary Anne MacLeod Story focuses on the penpal relationship between a young Mary and Agnes Stiven, from Dundee. Mary, the youngest of 10 children, first wrote to Agnes after seeing her in an article in The Sunday Post’s sister title, The Courier, in 1926 after Agnes won a painting competition.

Mary Ann MacLeod in the 1930s in Scotland.

A couple of years later they met for the first time in Glasgow, as Mary prepared to sail to New York, where a job and her sister waited.

Agnes moved to Germany in 1933 to take up a university scholarship and only returned to Dundee, with her children, at the end of the war.

By then, the penpals had long since lost touch.

It was only in the 90s, after Agnes watched a TV interview with Donald Trump and his mother, that they reconnected.

Agnes wrote a letter to Mary, care of “Trump Tower, New York” and received a quick reply.

Cathy Brett, Agnes’s granddaughter, said: “I remember the day of their reunion. My sister went with her to London. She says they both had rich Scottish accents and giggled together like teenagers.”

Mary died in 2000 and Agnes two years later.


Trump’s Mother – The Mary Anne MacLeod Story, BBC Alba, Tuesday, 9pm.