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For the Islands I Sing: An Autobiography

3.87  ·  Rating details ·  69 ratings  ·  9 reviews
George Mackay Brown wrote this memoir in the years before his death in 1996, offering a simple, bardic honesty turned on himself.
Unknown Binding, 192 pages
Published February 1st 1998 by John Murray Publishers (first published 1997)
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3.87  · 
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 ·  69 ratings  ·  9 reviews


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Leif
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In my opinion, even if I quarrel with some of the trajectories his thinking takes, George Mackay Brown is one of the most significant writers - novels, poems, and essays - to come from Scotland in this century.

This, his autobiography, signals a moment of reflection in his life, and possibly a coming to terms with many of the darkest sides of his personality such as the tendency towards alcoholism and the dependence on his mother's care. It also hints at the immense burden of living with tubercu
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Chiefdonkey Bradey
I must seek out once more the lonely beauty of the north
Cooper Renner
Sep 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve read virtually none of Brown’s poetry, but this is a fine memoir which makes me curious about his writing.
Tom Ireland
Dec 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Books about books always offer a bonus. They lead you to other books. I first heard of Orkney-born poet George Mackay Brown through reading Howard's End is on the Landing (well worth a read in itself). For the Islands I Sing is his autobiography.

I got my copy secondhand and it is not in the best condition. The first page is torn and it is warped from a soaking (I hope it was dropped in the bath rather than the toilet). Oddly for me, this did not put me off, rather, it added character to the book
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Richard Thomas
Oct 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It's beautifully written and as with pretty well everything else, George Brown hid more than he revealed but what's wrong with being private? In the book he traces his life which, with a digression to Edinburgh in his relative youth, was spent in Stromness and indeed rarely did he leave Orkney. But then read his poetry and novels and get how the islands were his life blood and inspiration. His was a modest life from a material sense but rich in imagination and in the mysticism of the Orcadian pa ...more
Peggy
Jun 06, 2015 rated it it was ok
I read this to help me get a sense of the Orkneys, where I'll be spending a week later this summer, and it does provide a strong sense of place. The initial chapters give a short history of the islands and their people that was very evocative. After that, Brown comes across as a willfully eccentric person who lived a rather lonely life, with a lot of alcohol. I admit I found the long literary passages too rambling and skipped over them.
Stuart Macbeath
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was ok
GMB beautifully describes certain sections of his life, then either omits or rushes through sections of others.
Ade Bailey
Off to the Orkney Islands next week. What better way to prepare than reading again the words of the lovely poet.
Lizzy
Sep 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
A few too many words and a bit rambling but I liked the descriptions of Orkney my fathers birthplace.
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George Mackay Brown, the poet, novelist and dramatist, spent his life living in and documenting the Orkney Isles.

A bout of severe measles at the age of 12 became the basis for recurring health problems throughout his life. Uncertain as to his future, he remained in education until 1940, a year which brought with it a growing reality of the war, and the unexpected death of his father. The followin
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