Margaret Elphinstone

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The Author

Events | Author profile

I am now fairly selective about doing events, and I try to space them out as much as possible. However, if you’d like me to do a reading or workshop, please email me.

CatStrand 'Continuing to Write' workshops: monthly throughout the year
"Continuing to Write" workshops, led by Margaret Elphinstone, meet monthly at the CatStrand, New Galloway from 3.15 to 5.15 pm, on the following Wednesdays:
June 14th * NB new date,
July 5th, August 9th, Sept 6th
This workshop is now a closed group but if you wish to register your interest in joining a proposed "Starting to Write" group contact the The CatStrand, New Galloway, Dumfries & Galloway, or call 01644 420 374.



June 2017
Prehistory Workshop: University of Stirling

Saturday 3rd June. A British Academy-funded bilingual (English/French) workshop exploring how prehistory has entered debates in modern and contemporary France concerning aesthetics, fiction, politics and philosophy.
Margaret Elphinstone will participate in a discussion of her representation of the Mesolithic in her novel The Gathering Night.
Programme details. For further information contact Prof. Bill Marshall.
The one-day event is free but registration by 30th May is essential.

November 2017
Durhamhill Writers' Course

Margaret Elphinstone and Mary Smith will once again be co-tutoring the extremely popular Durhamhill Writers' course from 14th - 16th November 2017.
Durhamhill, set in the delightful Galloway countryside, provides an ideal retreat to explore your potential as a writer or to advance your work in progress.




The author and events. Margaret Elphinstone vertical

Author Profile

Margaret Elphinstone lives once more in Galloway where she was working as a gardener when her first novel was published in 1987. She is the author of eight novels as well as poetry and short stories.

She is a graduate of Durham University and an Emeritus Professor of Strathclyde University where she was a member of the English Studies Department from 1990-2008. Apart from spells of academic work in the USA, she has spent her working life in Scotland including Shetland, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Moray.



She has been appointed an Honorary Fellow of the Association of Scottish Literary Studies. In his oration conferring the honorary fellowship on Margaret Elphinstone, the ASLS President, Professor Ian Brown, said:
"Margaret Elphinstone’s career has been varied, including eight years living in Shetland and time as a gardener in Galloway. So, she has worked the length of Scotland and her writing has a parallel range. This is not just geographic. She herself has said, ‘My fiction is mostly historical and I usually write about people living “on the edge”’. She writes of the Stone Age, of Vikings, of mythical lands, returning often to the theme of journeying. Behind her work is impeccable research; her love of nature shines through; her prose embodies the beauty of words. She gives back to the writing community, too.

"A member of the Strathclyde University English Studies Department from 1990 to 2008, she became in 2003 Professor of Writing, and remains Professor Emerita. She has regularly offered classes in centres of creativity like Moniack Mhor, encouraging and critically supporting the next writing generation.

"Distinguished critics respect her – Professor Ian Campbell writes in The Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature: ‘Her work – assured, attractive, innovative – has the attraction of rarely offering the same pleasures twice, though certain themes recur. These include interest in the historic and mythical past, the Norse and Scandinavian invasions and influences on Scotland, a perceptible interest in the fantastic, a strong feeling for nature.’

"And the general public also admires her work: The Sea Road appeared in The List magazine’s ‘100 Best Scottish Books of All Time’. One may have sensible reservations about such lists, but they convey the public’s respect for the authors chosen. Margaret Elphinstone’s work is undoubtedly worthy of the highest respect."




In 'The Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature'. [Edinburgh University Press 2006.] Ian Campbell, in his chapter: Disorientation of Place, Time and ‘Scottishness’: Conan Doyle, Linklater, Gunn, Mackay Brown and Elphinstone says of Margaret Elphinstone:
"Her work – assured, attractive, innovative – has the attraction of rarely offering the same pleasures twice, though certain themes recur. These include interest in the historic and mythical past, the Norse and Scandinavian invasions and influences on Scotland, a perceptible interest in the fantastic, a strong feeling for nature......

"Elphinstone’s characters often travel over huge distances: her world is one of expanding vision, an attempt to connect to a half-understood natural world, to understand the perplexities of human characters in affection as well as danger and stress. She has mastered the short story (An Apple From a Tree, 1991) and full-scale fantasy (Hy Brasil 2002). Voyageurs (2003) is a confident and convincing excursion into those who explored and settled eastern Canada, the settlers who fought climate, indigenous people and misunderstanding at home to carve out lives in a really new world. "

Illustration at top of page: 'Author's neighbours'



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