Margaret Elphinstone

Margaret Elphinstone has published eight novels as well as short stories. Her fiction, mostly historical, is characterised by people on journeys to places on the edge – islands, frontiers - where cultures and ideas meet and evolve.

"a canny graceful writer" "gilded with erudite detail" "hugely inventive"
"assured, attractive, innovative"


Margaret Oliphant, the Nineteenth Century Scottish writer, is the subject of Margaret Elphinstone's contribution to the Dangerous Women Project, an online collection of essays on women who, for one reason or another, have been regarded by society as 'Dangerous Women'.

"....... The whole family look quite exhausted; they have already been travelling for twenty-four hours and the channel crossing was “dreadful”. The young woman tries to lead them on to the platform for the Lyon train, but is turned back. They all crowd into a cold, stuffy waiting room. As that capable young woman wrote later, 'It was my first experience of having to take the management of things myself, and all was new to me, and my French of the most limited description.'..." Read the full article

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The most recent novel

The Gathering Night, set 8000 years ago among the hunter-gatherers of Mesolithic Scotland, is a story of conflict, loss, love and adventure in the aftermath of a devastating tsunami which swept through what is now the North Sea. New research has shed more light on the scale of the disaster.
Set deep in our stone-age past, this novel resonates as a parable for our troubled planet today. Read the reviews.
Find out about researching a Mesolithic novel

Recent writing

Douglas Thompson has just published a finely-worked novel, The Brahan Seer, based on the life of Scotland's most famous prophet. Margaret Elphinstone has provided the introduction, reflecting on the significance of the Seer's story today, irrespective of whether he ever existed.

Margaret Elphinstone's essay, The Meniscus Moment, is published in Dark Mountain, Issue 4 edited by Dougald Hine, Nick Hunt, Paul Kingsnorth and Adrienne Odasso and published by the Dark Mountain Project 2013. ISBN 978-0-9564960-3-4.

Margaret Elphinstone is a contributor to Unstated, a collection of essays on Scottish Independence edited by Scott Hames and published in December 2012 by Word Power Books ISBN 9780956628398
Find out more about Margaret Elphinstone's other writing

Margaret Elphinstone's novels are all still available

The Gathering Night, Light, Voyageurs, Hy Brasil and The Sea Road are all published, in print and as E-books by Canongate Books. The Sea Road appears in '100 Best Scottish Books of All Time' produced by the List Magazine.

Gato is published by Sandstone Press for new and emergent adult readers. Margaret Elphinstone's three earliest novels, Islanders, A Sparrow's Flight and The Incomer or Clachanpluck, have all been republished by Kennedy & Boyd.

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