About Nan Shepherd

About Nan Shepherd

To save you trawling through the blog, all my posts about Nan Shepherd (so far) are here, too. On desktops and laptops use your mouse to scroll right and view more.


Nan Shepherd and Jessie Kesson: an uncommon friendship
‘For, through myrrh’s smell, past wud’s tremendous green, my frien’ just followed me, the hale wye back’ …
The Living Mountain Conversations
Since November of last year, Scottish musician and artist, Jenny Sturgeon, has been in conversation with artists, …
Searching for Nan Shepherd
In the 1970s, Nan Shepherd was introduced to the artist Barbara Balmer. 'Nan Shepherd's Sun Porch' captures …
Where is Nan Shepherd’s shanty on the edge of the Cairngorms?
Nan Shepherd escaped as often as she could to her 'shanty' in the Cairngorms. But where was …
Nan Shepherd: what shall be your badge?
'What shall be your badge in the ever-living Wood of Caledon?' asks Cuthbert Graham in the poem …
Wild Geese
Nan Shepherd is most famous for The Living Mountain. Published here together for the first time is …

There’s been a revival of interest in Nan Shepherd recently. And about time, too. Famous for her novels and poetry in the 1930s by the 1950s and 60s she had slipped into literary obscurity.

‘That’s what you call a passing reputation’, she said, a twinkle in her eye, to a journalist in 1976.

A year later, she pulled a manuscript out of the drawer where it had been lying since the 1940s and published it. She paid for its printing herself. And although it was moderately successful, there were many who didn’t quite ‘get’ The Living Mountain.

It seems the world has finally caught up with her. Reprinted in 2011, The Living Mountain is now considered a masterpiece. She has a dedicated paving slab outside Edinburgh’s Makar’s Museum and her face adorns the RBS £5 note.

Who was Nan Shepherd?

But who was this woman who wandered the Cairngorms, often alone, in the 1920s and 30s. Who slept out in the hills, bathing in tarns and walking barefoot on heather.

Why did she give up writing? Was it really true, what she said to that same journalist in 1976: ‘it just didn’t come to me anymore.’

These, and other questions, set me searching for the writer. I found her extremely elusive. Into the Mountain the first biography of the Scottish writer and poet unravels some of the mysteries about her.

But there’s always more to learn. As she says in The Living Mountain:

Knowing another is endless, the thing to be grown, grows with the knowing.

The Living Mountain.

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About Nan Shepherd
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About Nan Shepherd
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Who was Nan Shepherd? Where was that shanty in the Cairngorms she loved? Read Charlotte Peacock's posts from the blog here.
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