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Norman MacCaig


1910 - 1996

Poet. Born in Edinburgh and educated at the Royal High School and the University of Edinburgh, where he read Classics, moving on to Moray House College of Education to train as a teacher. He taught in primary schools in Edinburgh for many years and, as a conscientious objector during the Second World War, was imprisoned for a time which gave him the opportunity to write poetry. His first two published books of poetry, A Far Cry (1943) and The Inward Eye (1946) were to be rejected by him later as too obscure, and he is better known for Riding Lights (1955) and Collected Poems (1985).

MacCaig was regarded as the greatest Scottish poet of his generation. He was much influenced by his mother's Gaelic-speaking background on the island of Scalpay in the Western Isles and was a close friend of poet Hugh MacDiarmid (1892 - 1978). He is much associated with the rugged landscape of Assynt, where he enjoyed fly-fishing and which he described as 'this most beautiful corner of the land' in his long poem A Man in Assynt (1969).

He was awarded the Queen's Gold Medal for poetry in 1986 and died in Edinburgh.


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