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Eric Robert Linklater


1899 - 1974

Author. Born in Penarth (Wales), the son of Captain Robert Linklater of Dounby (Orkney). The family returned to Orkney and the young Linklater was educated at there and at the University in Aberdeen. His medical studies were interrupted by the First World War. Serving in the Black Watch, he survived the Somme campaign only to receive a serious head injury near Ypres (Belgium). After several months of convalescence, he returned to University. In the late 1920s, Linklater spent two years in the USA and China. His first novel, the semi-autobiographical White Maa's Saga was published in 1929 and became an immediate success. Linklater was a prolific writer, noted particularly for his historical works, which included Mary, Queen of Scots (1933), Robert the Bruce (1934), The Impregnable Woman (1938) and The Ultimate Viking (1955). Novels such as Juan in America (1931) and Private Angelo (1946), reflect Linklater's extensive travels. Linklater also wrote on war; The Defense of Calais (1941), The Highland Division (1942), The Campaign in Italy (1951) and Our Men in Korea (1952).

During World War II, Linklater was commissioned as a Major in the Royal Engineers and commanded 'Fortress Orkney'. He went on to work in the War Office and was sent to record the Italian Campaign in 1943.

Politically, Linklater was a nationalist, examining the relationship between Scotland and England in The Lion and the Unicorn (1935). In 1933, he became the first Scottish National Party candidate when he stood in a parliamentary by-election in East Fife.

Linklater lived for many years at Pitcalzean House (Easter Ross) and served as Rector of the University of Aberdeen (1945-8). Following time in the Far East during the early 1950s, he returned to Scotland. He died in Aberdeen and is buried in Harray Kirkyard (Orkney). A bequest of art given to the University of Aberdeen, is displayed in the Marischal Museum.

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