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Scottish Writers

Lewis Grassic Gibbon

Lewis Grassic Gibbon / Writer

  • Name  : Gibbon
  • Born  : 1901
  • Died  : 1935
  • Category  : Writers
  • Finest Moment : Writing of Sunset Song, 1932.

His real name was James Leslie Mitchell, but as Gibbon he published his best known work, the trilogy A Scots Quair. Born on 13 February, 1901, on his father's farm Hillhead of Segget, Auchterless, in Aberdeenshire. His was a compressed and all too short span, like the growing seasons on the farm, and his writing has a beautiful rolling rhythm which is quickly attractive, sounding like the local dialect yet without the (to a stranger) inscrutable local spelling.

The family moved slightly south when he was eight; to the Howe of The Mearns, where the Scots Quair would later be set. In 1917, when he was sixteen, he began work as a journalist in Aberdeen, followed two years later with a spell on the Scottish Farmer in Glasgow.

He joined the Royal Service Army Corps in 1919, and was stationed round the Middle East, using this experience as a basis for several books, including Spartacus in 1933. He was discharged in 1923 but re-enlisted as a clerk in the Royal Air Force for a further six years. His first book was published in 1928, just before he left the Air Force. In the next six years, all that he had left to live, he published another 17 books.

His trilogy tells the story of a woman, Chris Guthrie, from childhood on her father's farm through three marriages, with moves from rural life to urban squalor and back again. There is something clear and refreshing about it, including its raw honesty about the social upheavals of the time and the differences between Scotland and England in language and culture. The first book of the trilogy, Sunset Song, is perhaps the most enduring. The trilogy was published in 1946.

He also wrote a collaborative book with Hugh MacDiarmid, who encouraged him, Scottish Scene or the Intelligent Man's Guide to Albyn (1934).

Leslie Mitchell move to Welwyn Garden City in 1931, and died of a perforated ulcer in 1935.

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