An Orkney Tapestry
Edited by Linden Bicket , Kirsteen McCue / Written by George Mackay Brown
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Skilfully constructed, Mackay Brown weaves together myth, folklore, history, poetry, and even a self-contained play
He transforms everything by passing it through the eye of the needle of Orkney
[Brown] is a uniquely observant and skilful chronicler of life in his native Orkneys, past and present
Times Literary Supplement
Brown has perfected a narrative style of great simplicity
Linden Bicket and Kirsteen McCue have done invaluable service to scholarship
A rich fusion of ballad, folk tale, short story, drama and environmental writing
A celebration of place and people, the book asks troubled questions of the future
Herald Book News
About the Book
First published in 1969, An Orkney Tapestry, George Mackay Brown's seminal work, is a unique look at Orkney through the eye of a poet. Originally commissioned by his publisher as an introduction to the Orkney Islands, Brown approached the writing from a unique perspective and went on to produce a rich fusion of ballad, folk tale, short story, drama and environmental writing. The book, written at an early stage in the author’s career, explores themes that appear in his later work and was a landmark in Brown’s development as a writer. Above all, it is a celebration of Orkney's people, language and history. This edition reproduces Sylvia Wishart’s beautiful illustrations, commissioned for the original hardback.
Made available again for the first time in over 40 years, this new edition sits alongside Nan Shepherd’s The Living Mountain as an important precursor of environmental writing by the likes of Kathleen Jamie, Robert Macfarlane, Malachy Tallack and, most recently, Amy Liptrot.
Linden Bicket is Lecturer in Literature and Religion in the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh. She is the author of George Mackay Brown and the Scottish Catholic Imagination (Edinburgh University Press, 2017). Her research focuses on patterns of faith and scepticism in twentieth-century fiction and poetry.
Kirsteen McCue is Professor of Scottish Literature & Song Culture and Co-Director of the Centre for Robert Burns Studies at the University of Glasgow. She has published widely on song culture and is co-editor with Pam Perkins of Women's Travel Writings in Scotland (Taylor & Francis, 2016). She teaches an undergraduate course called 'Scottish Journeys', featuring An Orkney Tapestry.
George Mackay Brown (1921–96) was one of the twentieth century’s most distinguished and original writers. His lifelong inspiration and birthplace, Stromness in Orkney, moulded his view of the world, though he studied in Edinburgh and later at Newbattle Abbey College. In 1941 he was diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis and lived an increasingly reclusive life in Stromness, but he produced a regular stream of publications from 1954 onwards. These included A Calendar of Love (1967), A Time to Keep (1969), Greenvoe (1972), Hawkfall (1974), and, notably, the novel Beside the Ocean of Time (1994), which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and won the Saltire Book of the Year.
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