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George Mackay Brown

4.43  ·  Rating Details ·  44 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
George Mackay Brown was one of Scotland’s most prolific and acclaimed writers, but he  was also a handful of paradoxes. He holds a wide international reputation despite rarely leaving his native Orkney. He never married, but some of his most poignant letters and poems were written to Stella Cartwright, “the Muse of Rose Street.” Maggie Fergusson is the only biographer to ...more
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 28th 2007 by John Murray (first published April 1st 2006)
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Jan 12, 2010 Abailart rated it it was amazing

This is a fine biography, well written and researched. For me, the brilliance of Brown’s poems, stories and novels has never been in doubt, and I’m not generally interested in a writer’s private life unless it allows a greater engagement with their work. Fergusson’s book stands alone as a ‘good read’ for several reasons which I’ll outline here.
Brown was shortlisted for the Booker Prize the year that James Kelman won it, in 1994. There are similarities, I suppose, in the lives of the two men: a
Cornelius Browne
Dec 09, 2015 Cornelius Browne rated it it was amazing
This Orcadian poet and storyteller was a steadfast artist who worked always against the current, wholly uninterested in material success as he sought to transmute both the Orkney of legend and the Orkney of ordinary life into a singular art. For her first book, Maggie Fergusson shows tremendous ambition in choosing to write the life of Mackay Brown: apart from a relatively brief period as a mature student in Edinburgh, he hardly left his native Orkney, and even within these islands he did not ...more
Christine Cather
Apr 05, 2010 Christine Cather rated it really liked it
It is good to find out about the man from someone allied to him who shares the desire of new readers of GMB to pull apart the surface layer and look down into the deep well he dwellt in.

It's a great gift indeed to be eventually able to read the man after my early years of feeling excluded from his texts.
Scott Neil
Aug 26, 2012 Scott Neil rated it it was amazing
A remarkable biography of a remarkable writer. George Mackay Brown is somewhat an enigmatic figure due to his avoidance of publicity and his life that was lived almost exclusively in the remote Orkney islands off the northeast coast of Scotland. Biographer Maggie Fergusson has done a sterling job collecting anecdotes and insights into Mackay Brown's life through his work, the people he knew and the letters he wrote and received from friends and colleagues.
Using short passages from Mackay Brown'
Angela Young
Sep 04, 2012 Angela Young rated it it was amazing
This is the most wonderful wonderful biography. I didn't know much about George Mackay Brown until I read it, but it sent me scurrying to read his poetry and isn't that the mark of the best biographies, that they send you to the subject's work practically before you've finished the biography? I read Fergusson's beautifully-written account of Mackay Brown's life as if I were reading a poignant heartfelt novel. Her depiction of his reclusive and sometimes troubled nature is sympathetic but ...more
Nicola Pierce
Aug 28, 2015 Nicola Pierce rated it it was amazing
I cannot recommend this book highly enough. Poetry, for the most part, baffles me and I had never heard of George Mackay Brown but - my - oh - my - how I bawled my eyes out on finishing it.

Tremendously moving biography by one wonderful writer about another wonderful writer.

All I feel like doing now is opening the book to page one and starting it all over again.

Dec 28, 2012 Joanna rated it really liked it
A well written book about a man whose life and writing is deeply fascinating - I got this book when on holiday in Stromness and I'm still being pulled by the place, the island, the poetry, the man, the spirit of the place.
Mar 09, 2015 Sophie rated it it was amazing
An absolute stunning biography of a much under-rated poet. Fergusson brings the man alive but with it his poetry and the landscape of his writing.
Richard Thomas
Nov 24, 2014 Richard Thomas rated it it was amazing
A very good evocation of our national poet (along with Edwin Muir) and novelist. With Ron Ferguson's book it gets to what made him tick and analyses his inspirations and muses.
Dec 26, 2012 Peter rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written biography that illuminates the many dark regions in the life of this complex writer who was, ultimately, simply a thoroughly decent human being.
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