12 Books set on the Orkney Islands

Get some northern exposure with these reads

It is no mere whistling in the long dark of the Northern winter to claim that Orkney has produced more world-class writers than you would expect in a few scattered islands. From the Viking skalds onwards, we have gathered a rich hoard of words. Scan the bibliography of Simon Hall’s The History of Orkney Literature and find names known the world over: Edwin Muir, Eric Linklater, George Mackay Brown, all alive and writing in my lifetime. And there are those famous in their day, like J Storer Clouston.

Few writers who visit Orkney keep it out of their work – a blink of sun, a sudden squally shower, seals bobbing in the bay, Neolithic stones, wading from a holm across to Stromness in the early hours of New Year’s Day ...   

There are excellent bookshops in Stromness and Kirkwall; a whole world of Orkney poetry, creative non-fiction and children’s books as well as these works of adult fiction. Visit Orkney Library & Archive for a comprehensive list of books set in the islands; the following is in no way definitive:

5. Isobel Gunn

Audrey Thomas
In Another Light cover

7. In Another Light

Andrew Greig
Venus as a Boy cover

8. Venus as a Boy

Luke Sutherland

9. White-Maa's Saga

Eric Linklater
Orkney cover

10. Orkney

Amy Sackville
Magnus cover

12. Magnus

George Mackay Brown

List created by

Alison Miller

Alison Miller is the Reader in Residence at Orkney Library & Archive.

Tags: scotland