Hugh MacDiarmid (born Christopher Murray Grieve) 1892 - 1978 is acknowledged to have been Scotland’s greatest poet of the twentieth century, and a Modernist writer of international significance.  His work continues to permeate and shape Scottish identity in our time.  From 1952 until his death in 1978 he lived at Brownsbank Cottage just to the east of the town of Biggar, South Lanarkshire.  His wife Valda lived on there until her death in 1989.

In the early 1990s Biggar Museum Trust took over the cottage and conserved the contents exactly as when Hugh MacDiarmid last laid down his pen.  Until 2012 Brownsbank was home to writers in residence (see Brownsbank Writers page.)

In 2015 our charity MacDiarmid’s Brownsbank was registered and we took ownership of the cottage and its contents in 2016.  Our aims are fourfold: to restore and upgrade the cottage as well as to conserve the contents.  This is now urgently required (see Donate/Get Involved page.)  Secondly we seek to promote the works of Hugh MacDiarmid as widely as possible both nationally and internationally.  Thirdly we intend to re-establish the Brownsbank Writing Fellowship for writers in residence to work from the cottage.  Fourthly we aim to generate educational and community creative involvement as well as promoting literary tourism. (See Poetry Board page.)  

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MacDiarmid’s Brownsbank does not and will not discriminate on the basis of race, colour, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation or military status in any of its activities or operations.

MacDiarmid’s Brownsbank is committed to child protection and safeguarding in compliance with the National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland 2014 policy laid out by the Scottish Government.


MacDiarmid’s Brownsbank would like to thank Carcanet Press for their permission to use their copyrighted MacDiarmid material on this website. Hugh MacDiarmid’s work is published by Carcanet as well as a broad range of critical narrative context material.  You are invited to inspect what is available by visiting www.carcanet.co.uk

MacDiarmid’s Brownsbank is supported by The Clyde Wind Farm Community and Development Fund, The Architectural Heritage Fund and the SSE Renewables Community Investment Programme.  We are also assisted in kind by The HOPE Consultancy who maintain and update this website for which we are most grateful.

We would like to thank the William Grant Foundation for their generous support in enabling us to mount the exhibition Landmarks: Hugh MacDiarmid the Brownsbank Years.

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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.’