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Manuscripts of Works by George Mackay Brown

This page lists highlights of Edinburgh University Library's collection of literary manuscripts by George Mackay Brown.

For a fuller listing, see Related Links at the foot of the page.


As well as manuscripts of many individual poems, Edinburgh University Library holds material relating to the following collections.

The Storm and Other Poems (1954)
MS drafts (Gen 1776)
Loaves and Fishes (1959)
TS (Gen 2134/2/5)
The Year of the Whale (1965)
MS and TS drafts (Gen 1866/18)
Fishermen with Ploughs (1971)
Drafts and final MS, printer’s TS with author’s corrections (Gen 1867/1-3, Gen 1868/1)
Poems New and Selected (1971)
Drafts and final MS (Gen 1868/2-3)
Winterfold (1976)
MS (Gen 1970/1-3)
Voyages (1983)
MS drafts, TSS, proofs (MS 2842/1)
The Scottish Bestiary (1986)
MS and TS drafts (MS 2844/3)
Songs for St Magnus Day (1988)
MS and TS drafts (MS 2845/2/3)
The Wreck of the Archangel (1989)
MS drafts and working TSS (MS 3113/3/30), corrected proofs (MS 3111/5), MS of 'Introduction' (MS 3115/3f)
The Tryst on Egilsay (1989)
MS and TS drafts (MS 3113/1/2)
Brodgar Poems (1992)
MS drafts (MS 3115/3f and MS 3119/2i)
Foresterhill (1992)
2 MSS and corrected TS (MS 3119/3s)
The Lost Village (1992)
MS drafts (MS 3113/4/4) and corrected TSS (MS 3119/2b)
Orfeo: A Masque (1995)
MS (MS 3112/2/2), MS of foreword and corrected TS (MS 3118/16e)


Edinburgh University Library holds material relating to all five of George Mackay Brown’s novels.

Greenvoe (1972)
MS drafts (Gen 1885/1-7), early drafts in dramatic form (Gen 1866/6), corrected TS of parts I, III-VI (Gen 2134/1/1-2)
Magnus (1973)
Draft and final MSS (Gen 1946)
Time in a Red Coat (1984)
MS draft (MS 2841/2-3)
Vinland (1992)
MS drafts (MS 3111/1), corrected TS (MS 3119/4)
Beside the Ocean of Time (1994)
MS drafts (MS 3120)

Short Stories

As well as manuscripts of many individual stories, Edinburgh University Library holds material relating to the following collections:

A Calendar of Love (1967)
Draft and final MS (Gen 1778)
Hawkfall (1974)
Draft and final MS (Gen 1947)
Andrina (1983)
Corrected TSS and proofs (MS 3111/4)
The Golden Bird (1987)
MS drafts (MS 2842/5 and MS 2844/1)
The Masked Fisherman (1989)
MS and TS (MS 3115/3f)

Children's Stories

Edinburgh University Library holds manuscript material for two of Mackay Brown's best loved works for children, together with other drafts of children's stories at Gen 1957/1-3 and Gen 2134/2/8. See also Scripts for Radio and Television below for further work for children.

Pictures in the Cave (1977)
MS (Gen 1998/2)
Six Lives of Fankle the Cat (1980)
Drafts and final MS (Gen 2083/3)


We hold manuscript material for the following dramatic works, some of which are amongst Mackay Brown's earliest writings. See also Scripts for Radio and Television and Works for Music below.

The Carpenter’s Son (1949)
MS (MS 3112/4/1)
Gauguin in Orkney (1949)
MS (MS 3112/4/2)
Time in a Blue Coat (1951)
MS (MS 3112/4/3)
Earl Paul in Rousay (1951)
MS (MS 3112/4/4)
The Magic Fiddle (1951) (an early version of A Spell for Green Corn)
MS (Gen 2083/10), corrected TS (Gen 2134/2/1)
The Lady Odivere (1952)
MS (MS 3112/4/5)
To Whinny Muir Thou Comest at Last (1952)
MS (MS 3116/2a)
Halcro in Edinburgh (196-?)
MS (MS 3115/1)
The Loom of Light (1962-72)
MS drafts (Gen 2083/2), drafts and final MS, corrected TS (Gen 2134/3/2), partial MS (MS 2842/6/5)
Offerings (1963)
MS (MS 3115/1)
The Holy Voyage (1963-76)
Drafts and final MS (Gen 2029/1-3)
Our Lady of the Fishing Boats (1966)
MS (MS 3115/5b)
A Spell for Green Corn (1967)
MS drafts (Gen 1865/1-7, MS 3112/6)
The King of Thule (1976)
Draft and final MS (Gen 2029/8)
The Well (1979-81)
MS and TS drafts (MS 2842/6)
Time in a Red Coat (1979-82)
MS drafts (Gen 2134/3/3, MS 2841/1)
The Voyage of Saint Brandon (1980)
MS and TS drafts (Gen 2029/7, MS 2842/2-4)
The Milestone: A Christmas Play (1982)
MS drafts (MS 2846/4/1/1-2)
The Island of the Saints (1983)
MS drafts (MS 2846/4/3)
The Sweetie Shop in the Snow (1984-85)
MS drafts (MS 2846/4/4)
A Celebration for Magnus (1986-87)
MS drafts (MS 2844/2), 2 TSS (MS 3112/1)
Edwin Muir and the Labyrinth (1987)
MS drafts (MS 2844/4)
The Road to Colonus (1987)
MS drafts (MS 3115/3a-b)
Olaf Isbister (1990)
MS (MS 3115/4)

Essays and Non-Fiction

Together with manuscripts of many individual essays, Edinburgh University Library holds material relating to the following volumes. (There are also manuscript drafts of Mackay Brown's poetry reviews for The Scotsman at Gen 2029/10/3, Gen 2083/11, Gen 2134/2/3, MS 2845/1, MS 2846/1, and MS 3112/8.)

An Orkney Tapestry (1969)
Draft and final MS (Gen 1868/4-5)
Letters from Hamnavoe (1971-75)
MSS (Gen 1885/8, Gen 1946, Gen 1957/1-3, Gen 1970/19, Gen 1997, Gen 1998/5/1)
Under Brinkie’s Brae (1976-94)
MSS (Gen 2029/10/1, Gen 2083/8, Gen 2134/3/4, MS 2843, MS 2844/6, MS 2845/6, MS 3114/2, MS 3118/18-26), photocopies of proofs with MS additions and corrections and TS of ‘Introduction’ (Gen 2110/8-11)
Portrait of Orkney, 2nd ed. (1988)
MS notes and notebook containing drafts for 2 new chapters (MS 2844/5/1-2)
In the Margins of a Shakespeare (1991)
MS and TS drafts (MS 3114/1)

Scripts for Radio and Television

Edinburgh University Library holds many scripts by Mackay Brown for radio and TV programmes, including significant material for BBC Schools, particularly at Gen 1866, Gen 1970/25-27, MS 2843/9, and MS 2845/1-2. The following are among the highlights:

A Writer in Orkney, BBC TV documentary (1970)
First MS draft (Gen 1866/17)
Gray Furrow, Black Furrow, Radio Play (1975)
MS (Gen 1998/3)
Four TV plays for schools (1978)
MS drafts and TS copies (Gen 2134/2/6)
St Magnus, BBC TV script (1980)
MSS and TSS (MS 2843.7)
I Know What I Like (1981), script for programme marking Mackay Brown's 60th birthday
MS (MS 2843.8/6)
Four Plays for Children’s Voices (1984) (for BBC Radio Orkney)
MS drafts (MS 2846/5)
Columba (1991) (for BBC Radio)
2 TSS (MS 3112/7)

Works for Music

Together with much material relating to Mackay Brown's extensive artistic collaboration with the composer Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Edinburgh University holds the following works specifically written to be set to music by Maxwell Davies.

Apples and Carrots: A Yule Play (1983)
MS drafts (MS 2846/4/2)
Solstice of Light (1979)
Drafts and final MS (Gen 2134/2/4)
Lullaby for Lucy (1981)
MS (MS 2843/8/1)

Autobiographical Writings

Edinburgh University Library holds the following autobiographical manuscripts.

'An Autobiographical Essay' (for As I Remember, ed. M. Lindsay (Hale, 1979))
Corrected MS draft (Gen 2134/3/5)
Autobiography (Dec. 1986-Jan. 1987)
MS (MS 3115/1a)

Further Details

The above are highlights of Edinburgh University Library's extensive collection of Mackay Brown manuscripts. For a fuller listing, see the Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue and, for post-1987 accessions only, Handlist H50. For pre-1987 accessions, see also the manual Index to Manuscripts held in the Centre for Research Collections, Edinburgh University Library.