George Mackay Brown

George Mackay Brown (1921 – 1996) was one of the greatest Scottish writers of the twentieth century. A prolific poet, admired by such fellow poets as Ted Hughes and Seamus Heaney, he was also an accomplished novelist, dramatist and a master of the short story. Bar a brief period in Edinburgh, where he associated with the ‘Rose Street’ crowd including Hugh MacDiarmid, Norman MacCaig and others, Mackay Brown spent most of his life in Orkney, and his work is saturated with references to his native islands. As Seamus Heaney wrote, in Mackay Brown’s work everything was passed ‘through the eye of the needle of Orkney’.

He died in April 1996 at the age of 74. In 2005 a memorial plaque to Brown was unveiled in the Writer’s Museum in Edinburgh, engraved with a quotation from his best-known poem, ‘Hamnavoe’:

In the fire of images
Gladly I put my hand.

The Literary Estate of George Mackay Brown is represented by Jenny.

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Selected Books by George Mackay Brown

Book cover of Simple Fire by George Mackay Brown

Simple Fire: Selected Short Stories

Polygon, June 2021

Edited by Malachy Tallack, the first collection bringing together short fiction from across the span of George Mackay Brown literary life.

Book cover of Carve the Runes by George Mackay Brown

Carve the Runes : Selected Poems

Polygon, June 2021

A brand new Selected Poems, edited and introduced by Kathleen Jamie

Book cover of An Orkney Tapestry by George Mackay Brown

An Orkney Tapestry

Polygon, June 2021

A new edition of George Mackay Brown’s classic, with a new introduction by Linden Bicket and Kirsteen McCue

Book cover Christmas Stories by George Mackay Brown

Christmas Stories

Galileo Press, 2020

Superb Christmas themed short stories from the Orkney’s writer and Scottish literary legend, George Mackay Brown.

Much of Mackay Brown’s work is available in paperback, published by Polygon ( and as ebooks by Hachette.


George Mackay Brown - For the Islands I Sing

For The Islands I Sing, Polygon, 2019

George Mackay Brown - Beside the Ocean of Time

Beside The Ocean Of Time, Polygon, 2019

George Mackay Brown - Greenvoe

Greenvoe, Polygon, 2019

George Mackay Brown - Time in a Red Coat

Time In A Red Coat, Polygon, 2019

George Mackay Brown - Magnus

Magnus, Polygon, 2019

George Mackay Brown - Vinland

Vinland, Polygon, 2019

George Mackay Brown - The Golden Bird

The Golden Bird, Polygon, 2019