On this page we will be posting information, critical narrative and other information relating to the life and work of Hugh MacDiarmid.  We invite submissions of pieces in these categories. If you know of any such piece which you think may be worth sharing here you can submit it for consideration to macdiarmidsbrownsbank@gmail.com

In August 2018 the TLS published James Robertson’s article ‘No Ruined Stones’, an atmospheric and moving reflection of when he became writer-in-residence at Brownsbank in 1992.  To read the article click  Download PDF >


Our charity has seven trustees whose names and brief biographies are shown below.

Chris McCosh

Chris owns Atkinson-Pryce Books in Biggar and has done so since 2001, maintaining the bookshop as a thriving and profitable business as well as keeping it at the heart of Biggar’s vibrant arts community.  She was involved in the recent project to re-house Biggar Museum in its award winning premises which included fund-raising in the community.

Robin McAlpine

Robin is a Director of Common Weal, a Scottish ‘think and do tank’ which campaigns for social and economic equality, participative democracy, environmental sustainability, wellbeing, quality of life, peace, justice and cooperation. He has worked for over 20 years in journalism, public affairs, political strategy and policy. He writes for a wide range of sources on Scottish politics.

Susan Macdougall (Secretary)

Susan worked for a specialist arts publishing firm before becoming an arts administrator at the Royal Academy in London. On moving to Scotland in 1988 Susan has been involved with a variety of community activities as well as work for the Church.

Denham Macdougall (Convener)

Denham retired in 2011 after working for local authority in Community Development and Criminal Justice Social Work. He teaches music and is engaged with a number of community activities as well as work for the Church.

James Robertson

James is a writer of fiction, a poet, editor and publisher. He writes in both English and Scots. Hugh MacDiarmid’s poetry and prose has had a seminal influence on his own work. He was the first holder of the Brownsbank Fellowship (1993 - 1995) and lived at the cottage for those two years. His six novels to date include Joseph Knight (Scottish Arts Council Book of the Year and Saltire Society Book of the Year, 2003/04), The Testament of Gideon Mack (long-listed for the Man Booker Prize, 2006) and And the Land Lay Still (Saltire Society Book of the Year, 2010). He has also published several collections of short stories and poetry, and is a co-founder and general editor of, and contributing author to, Itchy Coo, an imprint specialising in books in Scots for children and young adults.

Alan Riach

Alan is the Professor of Scottish Literature at Glasgow University, Convener of the Saltire Society, Past President of the Association  for Scottish  Literary Studies, 2006-10 and General Editor of the Collected Works of Hugh MacDiarmid. Born Airdrie, Lanarkshire, 1957, BA Cambridge 1979, PhD Glasgow University 1986, worked in New Zealand at the University of Waikato 1986 - 2000. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including Hugh MacDiarmid’s Epic Poetry (1991), Representing Scotland in Literature, Popular Culture and Iconography and co-author with Alexander Moffat of Arts of Resistance: Poets, Portraits and Landscapes of Modern Scotland (2009), described by the Times Literary Supplement as ‘a landmark book, his fifth book of poems is Homecoming (2009). The Winter Book: New Poems was published in 2017.  Read Alan Riach’s Brownsbank Talk delivered in 2012 here> Download PDF >

Charlie Todd (Treasurer)

Charlie is a prominent church and community activist as well as local historian.  His exhaustive knowledge of the area and accounting experience are a great asset to the committee.  He is also an outstanding musician.

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A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle

 ‘And let the lesson be - to be yersel’s,
Ye needna fash gin it’s to be ocht else.

To be yersel’s - and to mak’ that worth bein’,

 Nae harder job to mortals has been gi’en.’