Nan Shepherd books

Nan Shepherd books

All Nan Shepherd’s books are once again in print. Although she was famous as a novelist and poet in the 1930s and 1940s, by the 1960s her books were out of print and Nan Shepherd seemed to have vanished from the literary landscape. Until 1977, that is, when she published the work for which she’s currently best known: The Living Mountain.

But there’s more to Nan Shepherd than her ‘hill book’. And thanks to Galileo Publishers and Canongate, you can now buy her novels and poetry again.

Nan Shepherd books in print

The Quarry Wood, Nan Shepherd

Nan Shepherd The Quarry Wood

Shepherd’s first novel, published in 1928, The Quarry Wood is the story of Martha Ironside’s pursuit of knowledge.

Fighting her way from her working-class background to university and a teaching career, Martha discovers along the way that ‘man does not learn from books alone’, but from living.

‘It’s a grand thing to get leave to live’ says her father, Geordie towards the end of the novel. The lines are now memorialised on Shepherd’s paving slab outside Edinburgh’s Makar’s Museum and on RBS’s five pound note.

The Weatherhouse, Nan Shepherd

Nan Shepherd The Weatherhouse

Shepherd’s most ambitious and complex novel, The Weatherhouse was first published in 1930.

Set in the North-East of Scotland, its backdrop is ‘Fetter-Rothnie’, a land denuded of its men during the first world war. Returning, shell-shocked, from the trenches, Garry Forbes is drawn into the intricate web of women at The Weatherhouse and their tragedies, yearnings and delusions.

A portrait of a small, rural community coming to terms with the enormity of war, The Weatherhouse provides a kaleidoscopic lens on human nature and the complex relationship of ‘truth’ to fiction.

Nan Shepherd, The Grampian Quartet

Nan Shepherd Pass in the Grampians

 Shepherd’s third novel, A Pass in the Grampians, appeared first in 1933. Currently unavailable as a single volume, it’s contained in Canongate’s anthology of her fiction and non-fiction books, The Grampian Quartet. The most modernist of Shepherd’s fiction, A Pass in the Grampians is the story of the Kilgours, a Kincardineshire family.

Like The Weatherhouse, no single character is given prominence, but they are just as memorable.  It’s the unapologetically vulgar Bella Cassie who is the harbinger of change in a novel about transformation.

But the story is also about young Jenny Kilgour’s journey to womanhood. What will she keep when she crosses that metaphorical and physical pass? And what will she leave behind?

 

The Living Mountain Nan Shepherd

The Living Mountain Nan Shepherd book cover

The book for which Shepherd is currently best known is The Living Mountain.

A meditative prose-poem on her beloved Cairngorms, when the book was politely rejected in the 1940s, Shepherd shoved the manuscript into a drawer where it lay for the next thirty-odd years.

It was as an ‘old woman’ she says in her foreword to the book, that reading it again, she realised that her tale of her traffic with a mountain was as valid today as it was when she wrote it. And still is.

It is now considered a masterpiece of mountain literature. Translated into several languages already it’s also available as an Audible book with Tilda Swinton narrating.

In the Cairngorms, Nan Shepherd

In the Cairngorms Nan Shepherd

Poetry didn’t come easily to Nan Shepherd. Although she began writing verse as a teenager, most of the poems contained in In the Cairngorms were written in a state she likened to ‘possession’ between 1930 and 1934.

First printed in 1934, Galileo Publishers has now republished the anthology with a foreword by Robert Macfarlane.

From the ‘burnie with the glass-white shiver’ to the ‘deepmaist pit’ of Loch Avon, to the series of oblique sonnets, all the verse was either written in, or inspired by, Shepherd’s beloved hills.  In the Cairngorms, is filled with light. Sunlight, ice-light, ‘skies green as ice’. And water, singing over stone. Lyrics that linger, long, in the ear.

Wild Geese, Nan Shepherd

Wild Geese: A Collection of Nan Shepherd's Writing

Wild Geese,   a collection of Nan Shepherd’s writing was published in 2018 with an introduction by Charlotte Peacock.

Much of Shepherd’s other work – a short story, essays, reviews and assorted prose pieces, was never published outside local magazines and journals and is reprinted here in book form, for the first time.

Some of the poems appear here for the first time in any publication and were found by Charlotte Peacock when she was researching her biography of Shepherd, Into the Mountain. 

Nan Shepherd biography

Into the Mountain A Life of Nan Shepherd

Into the Mountain: A Life of Nan Shepherd   is the first biography of Shepherd. Published in 2017, at the back of the book there’s a list of her published writing and critical essays on her work.

Works on Nan Shepherd

Nan Shepherd Bookshop

You’ll find a curated collection of books by Nan Shepherd, and about her life and work on my bookshop.org page.


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Nan Shepherd books
Article Name
Nan Shepherd books
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Famous as a novelist and poet in the 1930s and 40s, by the 1960s her novels and poetry were out of print and Shepherd appeared to have vanished from the literary landscape. Until, 1977, when she published The Living Mountain, the work for which she's best known. But there's more to Nan Shepherd than her 'hill book'. And thanks to Galileo Publishers and Canongate, her fiction, poetry and other writings are once again available. To buy your copy just click on the image.
Author
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Charlotte Peacock
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