From Ness, Isle of Lewis, Donald S Murray was a secondary teacher for many years. Since leaving the profession, he has published many books – fiction, non-fiction and poetry. These include The Guga Hunters (Birlinn), The Guga Stone (Luath Press) and Herring Tales (Bloomsbury) – the last two chosen by the Guardian as among their Nature Books of the Year.
His most recent books are For the Safety of All – A Story of Scotland’s Lighthouses and In a Veil of Mist (Saraband), a novel currently longlisted for the Highland Book of the Year. Based on the story of biological weapons testing off the coast of the Isle of Lewis in 1952, it will be the subject of a documentary on BBC Alba later this year and published in United States and Canada in October this year. It was also chosen as Historical Book of The Month by the Times.
A previous novel, As the Women Lay Dreaming (Saraband), will be published in North America in May 2022. This work was inspired by the effects of the Iolaire disaster on the island of Lewis on 1st January 1919. This last novel was the subject of a documentary on BBC Alba and featured on BBC Radio 4’s Open Book, presented by Mariella Frostrup. Among other forms of recognition, it was shortlisted for the Authors Club First Books Award, the Herald Award for an Outstanding Contribution to Scottish Culture. and was Highly Commended in the Sir Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction. It also won the Paul Torday Memorial Prize for 2020.
His work has been widely reviewed in a variety of national publications, including the ‘Spectator’, ‘Sunday Times’, ‘Daily Mail’, ‘Scotsman’, ‘Herald’ etc. He has appeared at a wide variety of book festivals and other events, both within Scotland and abroad.
His Gaelic play Sequamur was performed throughout Scotland and in Northern Ireland, London and Ypres in Belgium. Working with the artist Hugh Bryden, he also won the Callum MacDonald Memorial Award for 2021 for his poetry and short story pamphlet, Achanalt (Roncadora Press).
A new novel The Call of the Cormorant will be published by Saraband in 2022. This works links the twentieth century history of Iceland, the Faroe Islands and the Outer Hebrides, together with the rest of the European continent in the build-up to the Second World War.