Best known as the playwright of Jamie the Saxt and Jeddart Justice, Robert McLellan has been called the finest writer of Scots prose in our time. His 'Linmill' stories were broadcast by the BBC, one of which, 'The Donegals' was made into a film. But for the most part McLellan's prose work has appeared in magazines or anthologies without being fully collected in book form. Their popularity has endured and now all twenty-four of his tales are available in one volume. Based on the author's youthful memories of his grandparents' fruit farm near Lanark, these finely observed stories give us a priceless insight into a generation now lost to us, and a timeless evocation of the world seen through the eyes of a young boy. There is honesty, compassion, harshness and humour in these stories, and McLellan's quiet voice adds a unique wit and an unsentimental authenticity to the telling.
Robert McLellan was born in 1907 at the farm of Linmill in the Clyde valley near Lanark. Young Robert was to spend some of his formative boyhood days on holiday at this farm - run by his grandparents - and these experiences formed the basis of the 'Linmill' stories. Educated at Bearsdon Academy and Glasgow University, he dedicated himself to writing Scots for the stage. His first one-act play, Jeddart Justice, a comedy based on the old Border feuds of the 16th century, was produced by the Curtain Theatre, Glasgow in 1933. His first full-length work, Toom Byres (1936), took the same subject, followed a year later by his best-known and most popular play, the 'historical comedy' Jamie the Saxt. He married Kathleen Heys in 1938 and they moved to the Isle of Arran. When war broke out McLellan joined the Royal Artillery, and during the 1950s and 1960s he was active in local politics and as a proponent of Scots in the League of Dramatists, the Society of Authors, and the Lallans Society. The 'Linmill' stories were written for radio between 1960 and 1965, while a long poem 'The Arran Burn' was televised in 1965. Another poem, 'Sweet Largie Bay', was awarded an Arts Council Poetry Prize in 1956, and his book on the Isle of Arran was published in 1969. With sixteen plays for the stage and five radio plays to his name, Robert McLellan was awarded the OBE and was made honorary president of the Scottish Society of Playwrights in 1975. He died in 1985.
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