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Steve Savage Publishers Ltd
CoverLetters from Hamnavoe

George Mackay Brown
sample extract

also by George Mackay Brown:

The First Wash of Spring
Rockpools and Daffodils
Under Brinkie's Brae

about George Mackay Brown:

Interrogation of Silence
isbn 9781904246015 rrp 7.50 paperback 192 pages

For many years George Mackay Brown wrote a weekly column in The Orcadian, and this book is the first of four selections from the column which have been published in book form.  Letters from Hamnavoe was published in hardback in 1975, and this is the first paperback edition.


George Mackay Brown was born in Stromness in 1921. He was at Newbattle Abbey College when Edwin Muir was Warden. He read English at Edinburgh and did post-graduate work on Gerard Manley Hopkins. He was known for his poetry, short stories, plays and novels, and won many prizes including in 1987 the James Tait Black prize for his novel The Golden Bird. He died in 1996.

'With the same skill, the same engaging combination of candour and reticence, the same courtesy, George Mackay Brown can be seen in these short pieces going the rounds of his characteristic interests and preoccupations ... any reader who already enjoys and admires Mr Brown's writings will enjoy this book.'
-- Glasgow Herald

'These weekly words of GMB's have stood the test of time, and have a real merit of their own ... it is a book that will reinforce those rich communal ties that make you feel in Orkney, you really "belong".'
-- Gerry Meyer, The Orcadian

'Letters from Hamnavoe was first published in 1975, but time has not diminished its pleasure ... There is humour, wit, a playful -- sometimes self-mocking -- irony in many of these letters ... There is also pure poetry ... George Mackay Brown writes without sentimentality or quaintness of this unfamiliar, northern region, and his reminiscences of boyhood and narratives of past Orkney life are never nostalgic.'
-- Margery Palmer McCulloch, TLS

'A delight in content and presentation. It offers another window into GMB's Orcadian soul ... This little collection, a mixture of the simple and the significant, the mundane and the metaphysical, is a treasure trove to grace the bedside table.'
-- Ron Ferguson, The Herald

'This welcome paperback edition will bring his writing to a new generation of readers ... readers of Letters from Hamnavoe do not need to be from Orkney to appreciate these elegant, finely-crafted short essays ... There is much good reading here about this and that, and a hundred or more other things ... These Letters are sprinkled with dry humour, and are rich in the apt phrase ... George Mackay Brown thought that perhaps a selection of these writings might make "a pleasant bedside book": they do, and more.'
-- Helen Cook, The Scots Magazine

'All aspects of Orkney life: people and places, past, present, home, abroad, anything that touched on Orkney or on his particular interest or mood on the day he was writing. What I found really surprising is that none of it is mundane ... It seemed an ideal book to dip into ... I soon found myself reading the entries in chronological order and then found myself reading it almost as a narrative'
-- Manus McGeehan, Cencrastus

'The delight lies in the sheer spontaneity of the exercise; the not knowing what will come next ... these disparate musings are yoked gently together by the sheer craftsmanship of the writer, over whose plainest pronouncements there is a wash of lyricism, insistent and muted as the sea. They are united too by their Orcadian themes, which turn out to be universal. Like Hardy or Faulkner or Burns, Mackay Brown illustrates the truth that you don't achieve universality by tearing up your roots and stamping on your sources.'
-- Christopher Rush, Slightly Foxed