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Polygon – An Eye to our Rebellious Past

  21 Feb '22   |  Posted by: Birlinn

Today’s impressive Polygon list, grew from radical beginnings in the 1970s ­– a time of vibrant interest in Scotland’s place both at home and in global politics, renewed confidence in our voice and a keen ear for those of other nations – and continues in that vein today, pushing boundaries, giving voice, inspiring conversation.

Students at the University of Edinburgh gave birth to Polygon as a small book-publishing platform and gradually it grew in reputation and importance. It was bought in 2002 by Birlinn Ltd. Today’s Polygon books are published by a team rooted in Scotland, renowned for innovative and independent publishing, shouting out to the world. 

Through the decades, the aim has always been to publish the leading voices of the day and we are proud to have at the heart of our publishing the foremost writers in fiction, literary non-fiction, poetry, music and drama.

Great names pepper our history from editorial initiatives to the writers and who made us:

Neville Moir, leading Polygon Books until the pandemic of 2020

A few from the back room…

  • Former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, as student editor
  • Bill Campbell, the intrepid publisher who went on to build Mainstream Publishing
  • Neville Moir, until recently the publishing director of the imprint who had been with Polygon on and off since student days
  • Alison Rae, the gifted, trusted, unseen hands shaping the nation’s reading for the last thirty years ­– bringing rigorous editing, support, confidence
  • Edward Crossan, keeping poetry and fine fiction firmly at the heart of Polygon. Scotland’s only, active (and pro-active) poetry editor.

To the best-seller charts with stories told, retold and reimagined, startling truths, accumulated lives

  • Alexander McCall Smith and his masterpieces, The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency and Scotland Street and his stand-alone novels, short stories and poetry
  • Stuart Cosgrove’s Soul Trilogy and social histories told through world- music and world-changing personalities
  • Jan Philip Sendker – best-selling writer of The Art of Hearing Heart Beats
  • Denzil Meyrick’s outstanding crime fiction, now more than 1 million sold
  • Muriel Spark’s Collected Novels – Dame Muriel redux for her home nation in her centenary year
  • Liz Lochhead – the beloved poet and playwright
  • Roseanne Watt, award-winning poet and creator of the magnificent Moder Dy collection, built from the sight, sound and heartbeat of the land and the sea
  • The lauded biography, Talking at the Gates: A Life of James Baldwin, written by his friend James Campbell
  • Norman MacCaig
  • The Darkland Tales series – bringing fresh interpretations of history through magnificent tellings in fictional shots, imbibed around the campfire – Denise Mina and Jenni Fagan
  • Sorley Maclean, and through his work in the Gaelic language and those of his generation of greats, building the memories from which our nation can continue to grow
  • Edwin Morgan and the honour to publish the Twenties to mark the centenary of the first modern Makar.

To today’s writers, poets, illustrators, designers, editors and publishers. You know who you are!

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