George's memory is inseparable from Orkney, where he was born the youngest child of a poor family. Tuberculosis framed George's early life and kept him in a kind of limbo. He discovered alcohol which gave him insights into the workings of the mind. By the time of his death in 1996 he was recognised as one of the great writers of his country.
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George Mackay Brown was one of the major Scottish literary figures of the twentieth century - a prolific poet and novelist, he took much of his inspiration from the myths and landscape of Orkney, and also from his deep Catholic faith. He was born in Orkney in 1921 and died there in 1996. Following his first book in 1954 he published many more, including plays, novels and poems. Sir Peter Maxwell Davies has set much of his work to music. In 1988 he was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for The Golden Bird. In 1994 his Beside the Ocean of Time was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and judged Book of the Year by the Saltire Society.