Category Archives: Extracts

A country built aslant: exploring Scotland’s fault line

I was born in Islington – a very different place in 1947 than it is now – but I had never been particularly proud of the fact until I heard Alistair Moffat at the Lennoxlove Book Festival, talking about his … Continue reading

Posted in Comment, Extracts, News | Leave a comment

Tall tales: history in a vertical plane

As a historian in an age when history was still dominated by studies of ‘Great Men’ and battles, John was ahead of his time in paying attention to the lives of ordinary people recounted in their own words.

Posted in Extracts | Leave a comment

John and Margaret’s first Christmas on Canna

John Lorne Campbell’s first year on Canna in 1938 ended well. He began work with Sir Alexander MacEwen on Act Now for the Highlands and Islands – a visionary pamphlet which called among other things for the creation of a … Continue reading

Posted in Extracts | Leave a comment

Canna whisky tasting

When I was researching John’s story I came across unopened bottles of long-forgotten brands of whisky in his desk, relics of the SS Politician which foundered on Eriskay in 1941. Now, revising The Man Who Gave Away his Island for … Continue reading

Posted in Extracts | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Midsummer wedding and burial on Canna

On another bleak midsummer John’s remains returned to Canna. By poetic coincidence his coffin made the journey on the Loch Nevis in the company of a wedding party. And now long friends of Canna, Gordon and Julie Galloway return to … Continue reading

Posted in Extracts | Tagged , | Leave a comment

A short story for Valentine’s Day

There was an inevitability about the meeting of John Lorne Campbell and Margaret Fay Shaw; their paths and their interests had been intertwining for years. Several times they had been in the same place at the same time, but had not met until … Continue reading

Posted in Extracts | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Who can tell the place of his dying?

In the morning, John had been netting moths in the garden. The day was warm enough to have lunch outside, but at the start of the meal he interrupted Margaret to point out a butterfly. As he did so he … Continue reading

Posted in Extracts | Leave a comment

Christmases past – and a new ferry link for the future?

Christmases past: “Cables coated with ice have fallen from Shetland down through the Outer Isles, never was there such a Christmas for misery”, wrote Margaret, “I am taking time to pull myself together, John still in bed and I am … Continue reading

Posted in Extracts | Leave a comment

Solving the conundrum of Canna House

“The happy accumulation” of Canna House moved Kathleen Raine to poetry.  In many ways the room her poem describes is still the same – ashtrays are empty and friendly bottles gone but books, pictures and owl lamp are still there, … Continue reading

Posted in Extracts | 6 Comments

Join the Sea League

Decades ahead of his time…he saw trawling as a threat to sustainability. Change can be painfully slow. This week the Scottish Government condemned the waste that endangers recovery of cod in the North Sea: a third of fish caught are … Continue reading

Posted in Extracts, Text | Leave a comment