Margaret Elphinstone was born in Kent, is now living in Galloway where she was working as a gardener when her first novel was published in 1987. Her latest novel ‘The Gathering Night’, was published by Canongate in 2009. She is the author of seven previous novels as well as poetry and short stories. She studied at Queen's College in London and Durham University. She was Professor of Writing in the Department of English Studies at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow from 1990-2008. Her academic research areas are Scottish writers and the literature of Scotland's offshore islands.
She did extensive study tours in Iceland, Greenland, Labrador and the United States. She lived for eight years in the Shetland Islands. She has two daughters and four grandchildren.
Before becoming professor in Glasgow in 2003, she worked at a variety of jobs in different locations. Some of her experiences were later used in her books:
- Islanders is based on her participation in archaeological excavations on the Shetland island of Papa Stour.
- Two garden books emerged after her work as a gardener in Galloway.
- Voyageurs arose after a one-year stay at Central Michigan University and canoeing adventures on the Ottawa River.
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