Andro Linklater

Orkney’s Laureate

The Life of George Mackay Brown: Through the Eye of a Needle


John Murray 363pp £25 order from our bookshop

You might not expect much from a biography of a man who spent most of his life living with his mother and the rest of it alone in a two-roomed council flat, rarely stirring far from either home. It helps of course that he had the sort of Blakeian imagination that saw a graveyard as a honeycomb full of anguished bees or ‘a green wave full of fish’, but the focus of his extravagant inner eye hardly ever broadened beyond the shoreline of a remote island off the north coast of Scotland. From this unpromising hank of material, however, Maggie Fergusson has fashioned an affectionate and enlightening life of the poet George Mackay Brown.

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