George Mackay Brown

George Mackay Brown (17 October 1921 - 13 April 1996), was a Scottish poet, author and dramatist, whose work has a distinctly Orcadian character.

Born in Stromness in the Orkney Islands, Mackay Brown is considered one of the great Scottish poets of the 20th century. From his youth, he was affected by tuberculosis. Apart from a spell as a mature student at the University of Edinburgh, and Newbattle Abbey College when Edwin Muir was warden, he spent most of his life in his native islands. From them he gained most of his inspiration, in poems, stories and novels which ranged through time. He drew on the Icelandic "Orkneyinga Saga", especially in his novel "Magnus".

He was nominated for the Booker Prize in 1994 for his "Beside the Ocean of Time" and won the 1987 James Tait Black Memorial Prize for "The Golden Bird: Two Orkney Stories". His autobiography, "For the Islands I Sing", was published shortly after his death. A biography "George Mackay Brown: The Life" by Maggie Fergusson was published in 2006.

Composer Peter Maxwell Davies collaborated with Mackay Brown for many of his Orkney-inspired works.

elected Works


* "The Storm" (1954)
* "Loaves and Fishes" (1959)
* "The Year of the Whale" (1965)
* "Fishermen with Ploughs" (1971)
* "Poems New and Selected" (1971)
* "Winterfold" (1976)
* "Voyages" (1983)
* "The Wreck of the Archangel" (1989)
* "Tryst on Egilsay" (1989)
* "Brodgar Poems" (1992)
* "Foresterhill" (1992)
* "Following a Lark" (1996)
* "Water" (1996)
* "Travellers" (2001)
* "Collected Poems" (2005)

hort stories

* "A Calendar of Love" (1967)
*"A Time to Keep" (1969)
*"Hawkfall" (1974)
*"The Sun's Net" (1976)
*"Andrina and Other Stories" (1983)
*"The Masked Fisherman and Other Stories" (1989)
*"The Sea-King's Daughter" (1991)
*"Winter Tales" (1995)
*"The Island of the Women and Other Stories" (1998)


*"A Spell for Green Corn" (1970)
*"Three Plays: The Loom of Light, The Well and The Voyage of Saint Brandon" (1984)


*"Greenvoe" (1972)
*"Magnus" (1973)
*"Time in a Red Coat" (1984)
*"The Golden Bird: Two Orkney Stories" (1987) won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction.
*"Vinland" (1992)
*"Beside the Ocean of Time" (1994) shortlisted for Booker Prize and judged Scottish Book of the Year by the Saltire Society

Essays and Autobiography

*"An Orkney Tapestry" (1969)
*"Letters from Hamnavoe" (1975)
*"Under Brinkie's Brae" (1979)
*"Portrait of Orkney" (1981)
*"Rockpools and Daffodils: An Orcadian Diary, 1979-91" (1992)
*"For the Islands I Sing: An Autobiography" (1997)
*"Stained Glass Windows" (1998)
*"Northern Lights" (1999) (Includes Poetry)
*"The First Wash of Spring" (2006)

Children's Stories

*"The Two Fiddlers" (1974)
*"Pictures in the Cave" (1977)
*"Six Lives of Fankle the Cat" (1980)


*For the islands I sing a collection of poems and short stories produced in 2006 by "Orkney Aye" [] a Young Enterprise Scotland company [] . It includes previously unpublished recordings of the author reading his own works.


title=George Mackay Brown
publisher=Barnes & Noble
series=The 'Modern Writers' Series

title=George Mackay Brown: The Life
publisher=John Murray

title=Interrogation of Silence: The Writings of George Mackay Brown
publisher=John Murray

External links

* [ Website about George Mackay Brown]

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