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Birlinn eBooks
Publication Date
20 April 2015
eBook only
Available for Sale
Birlinn Ltd

An Honourable Death

by Iain Crichton Smith - Find out more about the author


eBook also available from the iBookstore

'Iain Crichton Smith writes like a poet, with strong natural rhythm and precise observation' – The Times

In the summer of 1870, a seventeen-year-old crofter’s son turned his back on his apprenticeship with the Royal Clan and Tartan Warehouse in Inverness and signed up as a private in Queen Victoria’s army. He joined the Gordons – the 92nd Highlanders – whose reputation was second to none as the fearsome cutting-edge of the British Army. Posted to India, Afghanistan, South Africa and the Sudan, he became a formidable soldier, rising up through the ranks to become the glorified and much-decorated Major-General Sir Hector Macdonald or, more commonly, ‘Fighting Mac’, the true hero of Omdurman.

Then, in 1903, at the peak of his remarkable career, he was accused of homosexuality. Ordered to face court martial and unable to bear the disgrace, he ended his life.

From this true story, with a poet’s insight and precision, Iain Crichton Smith has crafted an exquisite novel: a tale of honour and elitism, equivocation and hierocracy, victory and despair.

Iain Crichton Smith was one of the best-loved and most prolific Scottish authors of the twentieth century. He was born in Glasgow, brought up in Lewis, and attended university in Aberdeen. After starting work as a teacher in Clydebank and Dumbarton, he taught at the High School in Oban until he took early retirement in 1977. He was the recipient of many literary awards and received an OBE in 1980. His widow, Donalda, still lives in Taynuilt, where the couple moved after their marriage in 1977.

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