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In Conversation with Donald S Murray

Donald S Murray

onald S. Murray was born and raised in Ness in the Isle of Lewis. He spent his teenage years at the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway, before studying at the University of Glasgow in the 1980s. After receiving an MA (Joint Hons) in English and Scottish Literature, he went on to gain a Diploma in Education and a Secondary Teaching Qualification.

Since then, he has written 11 books and published countless essays, columns, short stories, and poems in the likes of The Herald, The Guardian, and The Island Review. His work has received widespread critical acclaim, and been shortlisted for both a Saltire Society First Book Award and the Callum Macdonald Memorial Award. Donald was awarded the Jessie Kesson Fellowship in 2013, and received the Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship, an annual award which allows Scottish writers to enjoy a month-long residency in France, in 2012.

In 2015, his first full-length Gaelic play, Sequamur, was performed throughout Scotland, including at the Edinburgh Festival, as well as in Belfast, London, and Ypres in Belgium. Described as 'moving, powerful, with a message that resonates today,' it examined the effect of the First World War on the The Nicolson Institute in Stornoway.

As a native Gaelic speaker, Donald’s voice can often be heard on BBC Radio nan Gaidheal, while on BBC Radio Four he has featured on Open Book with Mariella Frostrup. He has appeared on TV, on BBC Four’s Birds Britannia, a series looking at the different birds that live in the UK, and on The Last Seabird Summer, which examined the decline of seabirds in the North Atlantic.

Donald also regularly speaks at book festivals and conferences around the world, and has delivered talks at the University of Reykjavik in Iceland; the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland; the Nordic Centre in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands; the Blasket Centre in Dingle, Ireland; and the Pisa International Book Festival in Italy, among others.

After 30 years as an English teacher, Donald became a full-time writer in 2012. He now lives and works in Shetland.


Dolina MacLennan

As a singer, actress, writer, broadcaster and cultural and political campaigner, Dolina Maclennan has worked tirelessly for the enrichment of Scottish culture and particularly of her native Gaelic language and song. From a wartime childhood on Lewis, her eventful life has encompassed becoming one of Edinburgh’s first pub folk singers, performing Gaelic songs in a Scottish Ballet production, friendships with such cultural figureheads as Hamish Henderson, Norman McCaig, Sorley MacLean and Hugh MacDiarmid, her role in the ground-breaking 7:84 Scotland production, The Cheviot, the Stag and the Black, Black Oil and a distinguished career in Gaelic broadcasting.
In recognition of her significant contribution to Scotland’s life and culture, she received the Saltire Society’s Fletcher of Saltoun Award in 2012, while this year (2016) saw her presented with an honorary doctorate by Edinburgh University.