Born in Caithness, Donald Campbell grew up in Edinburgh, attending Boroughmuir High School before undertaking a banking apprenticeship. After a few years in London, he returned to Edinburgh, where he lived for the rest of his life.
Campbell was a member of the Heretics Company in the 1970s, and formed the community theatre company the Old Town Theatre in the 1980s. He worked as a director in the 1980s and 90s. He was the author of more than a score of stage plays and also wrote radio plays and two volumes of theatre history.
Five earlier collections of poetry are represented in Selected Poems: 1970-1990 (Galliard, 1990); Homage to Rob Donn was published by Fras in 2007, and Fugitives by Grace Note in 2015. Campbell continued to work on further translations from the Gaelic of Rob Donn Mackay, and completed a version of Alexander MacDonald’s ‘Birlinn of Clanranald’. His contributions to the cultural life of his city include a piece in celebration of the Edinburgh International Festival’s fiftieth anniversary, and Edinburgh: a Cultural and Literary History (Signal Books, 2003). In 2014 thirty-one of his poems accompanied Ned Holt’s portraits of Edinburgh street characters in an exhibition at the Museum of Edinburgh; in 2017 he published poems to accompany Walter Geikie’s engravings of life and characters of the Old Town.
Campbell was Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Napier University between 2000 and 2002, and was awarded an Honorary Fellowship by the Association for Scottish Literary Studies in 2010.