The Saltire Society Literary Awards rely on expert panels of judges, helping us recognise a range of works from first published books to poetry.


Literary Awards Judging Panels 2019


Fiction Judges


 Lesley McDowell

Lesley McDowell is an author and editorial consultant, and for twenty years was a full-time literary critic for The Herald, The Scotsman and The Independent on Sunday. She has published two novels, The Picnic and Unfashioned Creatures, as well as a non-fiction study, Between the Sheets: The Literary Liaisons of Nine 20th Century Women Writers. She is the recipient of two Creative Scotland awards and in 2014 was Writer-in-Residence at Gladstone's Library. She chairs regularly at Aye Write, the Edinburgh International Book Festival and Wigtown Book Festival, and is co-founder of Open the Door, Scotland's only women writers festival.


Rosemary Ward

Rosemary Ward is the current director of programmes at the Scottish Book Trust. She was formerly the director of the Gaelic Books Council.


Ali Bowden

Ali Bowden is the Director of Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature Trust. Prior to joining the trust in 2006 she spent 10 years working in book publishing in Scotland, such as a commissioning editor at Polygon, and right manager at Edinburgh University Press. She has also worked variously in journalism, and several Scottish arts and culture committees as a speaker, chairing events and as an advisor.


Ken Cockburn

Ken Cockburn is a published poet, freelance writer, translator, editor and writing tutor.  His first collection of poems Souvenirs and homelands was shortlisted for a Saltire Award in 1998. He also now runs Edinburgh Poetry Tours. 


Alasdair McKillop


Alasdair McKillop is a regular reviewer of fiction and non-fiction books for publications including the Scottish Review of Books, The Herald/Sunday Herald, the New Statesman and The Times Literary Supplement. He participated in the first Emerging Critics programme supported by Creative Scotland and run by the Scottish Review of Books. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics and a postgraduate degree in Scottish history from the University of Edinburgh, where he also tutored for a time. Alasdair currently works as Head of Monitoring at Newsdirect.


First Book Judges


Elenor Collins

Eleanor Collins is Editorial Director at Floris Books in Edinburgh. She has many years experience assessing and editing quality fiction, non-fiction and children’s books in Scotland, England and Australia. She has led bespoke professional development workshops for editors drawing on her academic background in narrative theory and the novel.


Laura E Waddell

Laura E Waddell is the Publishing Manager at Harper Collins, and a public speaker. She is also a published writer, a columnist for The Guardian, The Independent, and The Times Literary Supplement among many others. You will find her work in Nasty Women, Know your Place, and The Digital Critic.


Andrés N. Ordorica 

Andrés N. Ordorica is a writer and educator based in Edinburgh, Scotland. His work has been featured in Confluence Medway, The Acentos Review, “We Were Always Here” by 404 ink, and “The Colour of Madness” by Stirling Publishing. He is an active member of The Scottish BAME Writers Network which works to create opportunities for diverse writers within the Scottish writing scene. Previously, he has served as a creative practitioner with Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center (USA) and Fighting Words (Ireland).


Prof Louise Welsh

Louise Welsh is an author of short stories and psychological thrillers. She has also written three plays, edited volumes of prose and poetry, and contributed to various journals and anthologies. Author of eight novels including The Cutting Room, A Lovely Way to Burn and Death is a Welcome Guest.


Vineet Lal


Vineet Lal is a literary translator from French to English, based in Scotland. He has degrees in French from the University of Edinburgh and Princeton University, and in Translating and Conference Interpreting from Heriot-Watt University. In 2010 he was awarded one of the first-ever Mentorships in Literary Translation by the British Centre for Literary Translation, and in 2011 published his first full-length translation, Lacrimosa by Régis Jauffret. He is currently working on a translation of The Woman Who Never Grew Old by Grégoire Delacourt, and his first translated children’s book, Panthera Tigris, will be published later this year. His literary interests include the French nouveau roman, childhood in French cinema and children’s fiction, particularly the work of C.S. Lewis, Philip Pullman, Alan Garner and Tove Jansson. He has also interpreted for Francophone authors at the Edinburgh International Book Festival for many years – including Goncourt winners Alexis Jenni and Tahar Ben Jelloun, Annie Ernaux and Michel Bussi – and has been a Trustee of Edinburgh UNESCO City of Literature since 2013.



History Judges


Prof Chris Whatley

Chris Whatley is a Professor of Scottish History at the University of Dundee.  His specialist field is Scotland history from the seventeenth century. The book that he considers to best represents him is his award winning book The Scots and the Union released in the run up to the Independence referendum in 2014.


Prof Richard Oram

Professor Richard Oram is a Dean of Faculty of Arts and Humanities at the University of Stirling. In 2008 he was appointed a member of the Historic Environment Advisory Council for Scotland.


Dr Annie Tindley

Dr Annie Tindley is a senior lecturer in Modern British History at Newcastle University.  She specialises in rural and aristocratic elites in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.


 Dr David Caldwell


David is an archaeologist and historian with a life-long interest in Medieval and Early Modern Scotland. From 1973 until he retired in 2012 he was a curator in the National Museums of Scotland, latterly as Keeper of Scotland and Europe and Keeper of Archaeology. He is currently the President of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, Chair of Fife Cultural Trust and a board member of the National Trust for Scotland.


Prof Jane Dawson


Jane Dawson is the John Laing Professor Emerita of Reformation History at the University of Edinburgh, having retired to north-east Fife in 2017. Her research has focussed upon Scottish and British history during the late medieval and early modern periods. Her most recent book was a biography of John Knox (2015) and she is now trying to escape from the shadow of the Scottish Reformer.


Non Fiction Judges


Meaghan Delahunt


Meaghan Delahunt is an award-winning novelist and short story writer. Born in Melbourne, she has lived in Edinburgh since 1992.  Her latest novel The Night-Side of the Country will be published in 2020.


 Abby Cull

Abby Cull is originally from the United States, but is currently based in Edinburgh, Scotland. She enjoys travelling, writing, and reading. Working as a bookseller has allowed her to fully embrace her love of books, and share it with others.


John Herdman

John Herdman is a novelist, short story writer and literary critic. He is the author of 17 books which includes five novels and various works of shorter fiction, a play, two critical studies and a memoir.


Prof Donna Heddle


Prof. Donna Heddle is Director of the University of the Highlands and Islands Centre for Nordic Studies which focusses on interdisciplinary Northern and Nordic studies and is based in both Kirkwall and Scalloway.  Donna has been based at UHI as Head of the Department of Cultural Studies since June 1999. She was programme leader for the Times Higher Education Supplement Award winning BA (Hons) Scottish Cultural Studies until March 2006.  She is now programme leader for the MLitts Highland and Islands Literature; Highlands and Islands Culture; Orkney and Shetland Studies, and Viking Studies. She has been involved in a number of Northern Periphery Programme cultural projects involving technology and education.  Her research interests are the creation of new paradigms in Scottish and Northern isles studies, Scottish and Northern isles cultural history, small island studies, language, and literature and Old Norse. She has published widely in these areas.

She is currently leading several national and international research projects involving Northern studies, including an AHRC Skills Training programme for PhD students and ECRs in the field of Old Norse-Icelandic and Viking Studies. Donna led the very successful Research Excellence Framework submission in Area Studies, placed first in Scotland for research impact (particularly in tourism) and 5th equal with the University of Oxford for research environment for the whole UK. Donna was awarded a Personal Chair by UHI in June 2013.


 Dr Kevin Guyan

Dr Kevin Guyan is an equality, diversity and inclusion researcher based in Edinburgh. He is Head of Knowledge and Research at the higher education organisation Advance HE, sits on the board of Evaluation Support Scotland, and runs the research and data consultancy EDI Scotland. He is passionate about the use of research, data and evidence to fight against inequality and diversify Scotland’s cultural and literary sectors.


Poetry Judges


Prof Rory Watson

Now a Professor Emeritus, Roderick Watson has lectured and published widely on modern Scottish literature, and has published two collections of poetry.


Dr Rhian Williams

Rhian Williams is the author of The Poetry Toolkit: The Essential Guide to Studying Poetry (3rd edition, 2019) and has published many essays on poetry since 1780. She has a particular interest in ‘ecological’ writing and lives and works in Glasgow. 


Jennifer Morag Henderson


Jennifer Morag Henderson is a writer from Inverness. She is the author of the acclaimed biography Josephine Tey: A Life. Her articles, poems and short stories have been widely published, and she is currently working on a historical biography. An experienced lecturer, Jennifer has spoken at many book festivals and venues including the British Library. She edited literary magazine Random Acts of Writing from 2006-2010, and has worked in several different areas of the book trade, including bookselling, libraries and publishing.


 Julie Dankson

Julie runs Golden Hare Books in Edinburgh, which won Independent Bookshop of the Year in 2019. She has a decade of experience working with books, from small academic publisher to running literary events of all sizes. She is also a writer, with poetry published in 404 Ink Magazine, fiction in the Listen Softly anthology Luminous, Defiant and reviews in Gutter and The Bookseller.


Colin Waters

Colin Waters is a former journalist who wrote for the Herald, Sunday Herald, Scotsman and New Statesman. In 2014, he edited Be the First to Like This: New Scottish Poetry for Vagabond Voices, for whom he has acted as a poetry editor. Since 2012, he has worked at the Scottish Poetry Library. Currently, he is co-editing an anthology of poems about places in Scotland for Birlinn.




Daniel Cook

Dr Daniel Cook is a English Literature lecturer at the University of Dundee. Specialising in eighteenth and nineteenth-century literature, book history, authorship and appropriation studies, the history of the novel, and Scottish and Irish writing more broadly.


Dr Heather H. Yeung

Heather H. Yeung (楊希蒂) is a literary critic, theorist, artist book maker, and poet. She teaches in English and Creative Writing at the University of Dundee, is co-director of the Centre for Scotland’s Land Futures, and editor of the Journal Northern Scotland. She is the author of Spatial Engagement with Poetry, as well as numerous articles and book chapters on interdisciplinary environmental literature and thought. She exhibits poetry-objects and artists books internationally and her poetic archive is held in the Scottish Poetry Library, Edinburgh.


Robin Smith

Robin Smith is the Head of Collections and Research at National Library of Scotland. Based at Edinburgh and Kelvin Hall, Glasgow.