Media release: Storm chasers team up to celebrate George Mackay Brown’s centenary


A SEARCH has been launched to locate as many copies as possible of George Mackay Brown’s first collection of poems, as part of celebrations to mark the centenary of the writer’s birth.

Brown, who was born in October 1921, was a poet, author and dramatist, whose works reflect his roots in Orkney.

In 1954, just 300 copies of ‘The Storm and other poems’ were printed, at the poet’s own expense.

Now, BBC Radio Orkney and the George Mackay Brown Fellowship have teamed up to try and track down as many copies as possible, and hear the stories of how and where they’ve survived.

In the introduction to the slim volume, the poet, Edwin Muir, wrote: “His main theme is Orkney’s past and present, and, if only for that reason, this book should be in every Orkney house.

“But it is as a poet, not only as an Orkney poet, that I admire him.”

Yvonne Gray, from the GMB Fellowship, said: “In that first collection, you can already find the themes that have become so important in his work and give it its significance for readers across the world. It will be fascinating to find if many Orkney houses still have a copy, and where the book has travelled to.”

Huw Williams, from BBC Radio Orkney, said: “We know all three hundred copies of the book were bought within just two weeks of publication. But where have they ended up? If you’ve got a much loved family copy on the shelves, or if you found one for sale in a second hand bookshop, we’d love to hear from you.”

The station plans to broadcast a special programme based on the search for copies of “The Storm and other poems” in the autumn.

Anyone with information about copies of the book, or for media enquiries and to arrange interviews, or

Notes to editors:

Picture credit: Ernest Marwick Collection, Orkney Library & Archive.

George Mackay Brown was born in Stromness, in Orkney, on 17 October 1921. He was educated at Stromness Academy, Newbattle Abbey College and Edinburgh University. He was awarded the OBE in 1974, and was nominated for the Booker Prize in 1994 for his novel, ‘Beside the Ocean of Time’.

The George Mackay Brown Fellowship was formed in 2006, to promote new creative writing in the islands and to celebrate Orkney writers past and present.

BBC Radio Orkney is a BBC community radio station, based in Kirkwall.

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