Agnes Owens

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Agnes Owens (born 1926) is a Scottish author.

She was born in Milngavie[1] and spent most of her life on the west coast of Scotland. She has been married twice and raised seven children, also working as a cleaner, typist and factory worker.

Owens came to attention through a writer's group led by Liz Lochhead in Alexandria, West Dunbartonshire.[2] She went on to draw upon her background in a series of novels noted for their accomplishment, humour and powers of observation.

In his postscript to Lean Tales Alasdair Gray describes the early part of Owens' writing career: "Her first novel, Gentlemen of the West, was returned by a publisher who said that he might consider printing it if a famous Scottish comedian said something about it which could be used as an advertisement. She posted the typescript to the comedian who put it on that pile of unsolicited correspondence which no famous person has time to answer. Industry in the Vale of Leven started closing even faster than in the rest of Britain. Westclox limited went into liquidation and Agnes did what our dynamic prime minister would do if the Thatcher family had to go on the dole: she hunted for part-time cleaning jobs. She worked for a while in the house of the comedian who had received her typescript a few years before, and got it back.'


  • Gentlemen of the West, 1984
  • Like Birds in the Wilderness, 1987
  • A Working Mother, 1994
  • For the Love of Willie, 1998 (shortlisted for the 1998 Stakis Prize)

Short stories[edit]

  • Lean Tales, 1985 (With James Kelman & Alasdair Gray)
  • The Lighthouse
  • A Change of Face
  • Getting Sent For
  • Paisley Yarns, 1991
  • People Like That, 1996
  • The Complete Short Stories, 2008 (contains new material)


  • Bad Attitudes
  • Jen’s Party


  1. ^ Kravitz, Peter (1997). The Picador Book of Contemporary Scottish Fiction. Picador. p. 553. ISBN 0-330-33550-2. 
  2. ^ Kravitz, Peter (1997). Introduction to The Picador Book of Contemporary Scottish Fiction. Picador. p. xvii. ISBN 0-330-33550-2.