Islanders is Margaret Elphinstone's first novel, written when she lived at Northbanks, Papa Stour in 1979. It is the author's expression of the seven years she lived in Shetland, during which she explored Shetland by land and sea, discovered the sagas while working in Shetland Library, learned to watch birds on Fair Isle, Noss and other islands, and spent several summers as a volunteer on a dig at Da Biggings, Papa Stour, excavating a Norse farm. The novel was re-written in the early 1990s, partly in the National Library of Scotland, partly in Shetland, and partly (thanks to a Scottish Arts Council travel grant) in Iceland. Islanders was first published in 1994. It is now (2008) nearly thirty years since the first draft was written; since then Margaret Elphinstone has lived in other places and written other books. But it was Shetland, and Islanders, that first inspired and formed her as a writer.
Margaret Elphinstone has published eight novels as well as short stories and poetry. Her fiction is mostly historical and is characterised by her portrayal of people on journeys to places on the edge - islands, frontiers - where cultures and ideas meet and evolve.
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