Lewis Grassic Gibbon

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Lewis Grassic Gibbon
Leslie-mitchell.jpg
Born James Leslie Mitchell
(1901-02-13)13 February 1901
Hillhead Seggat, Auchterless, Aberdeenshire
Died 7 February 1935(1935-02-07) (aged 33)
Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire
Pen name Lewis Grassic Gibbon
Occupation Novelist
Nationality Scottish
Citizenship British
Period 1928–1935
Genre General fiction
Subject Scottish country life
Science fiction
Historical novels
Literary movement 20th century Scottish Renaissance
Notable works The trilogy A Scots Quair, in particular the first book Sunset Song
Children Rhea Martin
Website
www.grassicgibbon.com

Lewis Grassic Gibbon was the pseudonym of James Leslie Mitchell (13 February 1901 – 7 February 1935), a Scottish writer.

Biography[edit]

Born in Auchterless and raised in Arbuthnott, then in Kincardineshire, Mitchell started working as a journalist for the Aberdeen Journal and the Scottish Farmer at age 16. In 1919 he joined the Royal Army Service Corps and served in Iran, India and Egypt before enlisting in the Royal Air Force in 1920. In the RAF he worked as a clerk and spent some time in the Middle East. He married Rebecca Middleton in 1925 and they settled in Welwyn Garden City. He began writing full-time in 1929. Mitchell wrote numerous books and shorter works under both his real name and his nom de plume before his early death in 1935 of peritonitis brought on by a perforated ulcer.

Mitchell attracted attention from his earliest attempts at fiction, notably from H. G. Wells, but it was his trilogy entitled A Scots Quair, and in particular its first book Sunset Song, with which he made his mark. A Scots Quair, with its combination of stream-of-consciousness and lyrical use of dialect, is considered to be among the defining works of 20th century Scottish Renaissance. It tells the story of Chris Guthrie, a young woman growing up in the north-east of Scotland in the early 20th century. All three parts of the trilogy have been turned into serials by BBC Scotland, written by Bill Craig, with Vivien Heilbron as Chris. Spartacus, a novel set in the famous slave revolt, is his best-known full-length work outside this trilogy.

In 1934 Mitchell collaborated with Hugh MacDiarmid on Scottish Scene which included three of Gibbon's short stories. These were collected posthumously in A Scots Hairst (1969). Possibly his best-known short story is Smeddum, a Scots word which could be best translated as the colloquial term "guts". Like A Scots Quair, it is set in north-east Scotland with strong female characters.[1] It was also dramatised by Bill Craig and the BBC, as a Play for Today in 1976, along with two other short stories, Clay and Greenden.[2] Also notable is his essay The Land.

The Grassic Gibbon Centre was established in Arbuthnott in 1991 to commemorate the author's life.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Hanno: or the Future of Exploration (1928)
  • Stained Radiance: A Fictionist's Prelude (1930)
  • The Thirteenth Disciple (1931)
  • The Calends of Cairo (1931)
  • Three Go Back (1932)
  • The Lost Trumpet (1932)
  • Sunset Song (1932), the first book of the trilogy A Scots Quair
  • Persian Dawns, Egyptian Nights (1932)
  • Image and Superscription (1933)
  • Cloud Howe (1933), the second book of the trilogy A Scots Quair
  • Spartacus (1933)
  • Niger: The Life of Mungo Park (1934)
  • The Conquest of the Maya (1934)
  • Gay Hunter (1934)
  • Scottish Scene (1934), with Hugh MacDiarmid
  • Grey Granite (1934), the third book of the trilogy A Scots Quair
  • Nine Against the Unknown (1934)
  • The Speak of the Mearns (1982), published posthumously

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Ian Campbell, Lewis Grassic Gibbon (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1985).
  • Douglas Gifford, Neil M. Gunn & Lewis Grassic Gibbon (Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1983).
  • Scott Lyall, 'J. Leslie Mitchell/Lewis Grassic Gibbon and Exploration', in Scottish Literary Review 4.1, Spring/Summer 2012, pp. 131–50.
  • Scott Lyall, '"East is West and West is East": Lewis Grassic Gibbon's Quest for Ultimate Cosmopolitanism', in Gardiner et al. (eds), Scottish Literature and Postcolonial Literature (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2011), pp. 136–46.
  • Scott Lyall, 'On Cosmopolitanism and Late Style: Lewis Grassic Gibbon and James Joyce', in Dymock and Palmer McCulloch (eds), Scottish and International Modernisms (Glasgow: ASLS, 2011), pp. 101–15.
  • Margery Palmer McCulloch and Sarah Dunnigan (eds), A Flame in the Mearns (Glasgow: ASLS, 2003).
  • William K. Malcolm, A Blasphemer and Reformer: A Study of J. Leslie Mitchell/Lewis Grassic Gibbon (Aberdeen: Aberdeen University Press, 1984).
  • Douglas F. Young, Beyond the Sunset: A Study of James Leslie Mitchell (Lewis Grassic Gibbon) (Aberdeen: Impulse Publications, 1973).
  • Iain S. Munro, Leslie Mitchell: Lewis Grassic Gibbon, (Oliver and Boyd, 1966).

External links[edit]