Shena Mackay

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Shena Mackay FRSL (born 1944), is a Scottish novelist born in Edinburgh. She was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction in 1996 for The Orchard on Fire.


After the war her family moved to Hampstead and eventually settled in Shoreham in Kent from where she attended Tonbridge Grammar School. Her writing career started with her winning a poetry competition in the Daily Mirror at the age of 16.[1] After leaving school her first publication was a volume of two novellas, Dust Falls on Eugene Schlumburger/Toddler on the Run the following year.

She holds a Fellowship of the Royal Society of Literature and is also Honorary Visiting Professor at Middlesex University. In an interview with The Telegraph in 2004 Shena explained that she is synaesthetic and "sees words as colours", her own name is yellow.[2]

She is the mother of painter Cecily Brown with art critic David Sylvester. [3] and as of 2008 lives in Southampton..[4]


  • Dust Falls on Eugene Schlumburger/Toddler on the Run (1964)
  • Music Upstairs (1965)
  • Old Crow (1967)
  • An Advent Calendar (1971)
  • Babies in Rhinestones and Other Stories (1983)
  • A Bowl of Cherries (1984)
  • Redhill Rococo (1986)
  • Dreams of Dead Women's Handbags (1987)
  • Dunedin (1992)
  • Such Devoted Sisters: An Anthology of Stories (1993) (editor)
  • The Laughing Academy (1993)
  • Collected Short Stories (1994)
  • The Orchard on Fire (1995)
  • Friendship: An Anthology (1997) (editor)
  • The Artist's Widow (1998)
  • The World's Smallest Unicorn and Other Stories (1999)
  • Heligoland (2003)
  • The Atmospheric Railway (2008)

Awards and nominations[edit]


  1. ^ "Bohemian rhapsodist". The Guardian (London). 10 July 1999. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  2. ^ "A writer's life: Shena Mackay". The Daily Telegraph (London). 2004-01-04. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  3. ^ Wood, Gaby (2005-06-12). "Cecily Brown: 'I like the cheap and nasty'". The Guardian (London). 
  4. ^ Rachel Cooke, "It all began with Freud and Bacon...", The Observer, 9 November 2008.


External links[edit]