First published in 1969, "A Time to Keep" has a vast cast of characters drawn from Orkney's past and present. The stories offer a range of emotions and incidents, exploring how the new and old collide and crash in a community as deeply rooted as Orkney's. 'Celia' portrays a woman who is shutting out the contemporary world, losing herself in an alcohol-fuelled haze which helps her rejects the horrors of Apartheid and the Vietnam War. In 'The Wireless Set', an old couple begins to fear the implications of new technology, as they associate the loss of their son during the war with the radio he brought to them before he left. "A Time to Keep" reflects Brown's recent conversion five years earlier to Roman Catholicism, which is both reflected in the title and in the spiritual content of the tales.
George Mackay Brown is 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. His collection of short stories A Time to Keep (1971) won the Katherine Mansfield Mentor short story prize and his novel Beside the Ocean of Time was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 1994. He died in 1996.