Highlander Neil Munro left his native Argyll to find work in Glasgow, but the Highlands stayed in his heart, and featured in most of his literary work, most famously in his Para Handy stories.
Neil Munro was born in Inverary in 1863, but left before his 18th birthday to seek work in Glasgow. He pursued a career in journalism, eventually becoming editor of the Glasgow Evening News. He was a popular novelist and short story writer; his successful historical novels relate to the Highlands. Love of his birthplace and the Gaelic language spoken by his mother and grandmother never left him.
During the First World War Munro visited the front line as a war correspondent, in 1914 and again in 1917. The war concentrated his poetic creativity, perhaps inevitably, as his son was killed during the Battle of Loos in 1915. Poems under the title ‘Bagpipe Ballads’ were published in Blackwoods Magazine in 1917, and in them the sad realities of war, as well as its humour, reflect the pipe music themes of the Highland culture Munro knew so well. His poetry was not collected until after his death, when John Buchan editedThe Poetry of Neil Munro (William Blackwood, 1931).
Poems by Neil Munro
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Image used by permission of Finella Wilson.