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Iain R. Thomson

Iain R. Thomson

First Book: Isolation Shepherd (Bidean Books, 1983; new edition by Birlinn, 2007)

Although he was born in Inverness, into a family with long-standing connections to the Highlands, Iain Thomson was in fact raised and educated near Liverpool. On leaving school in the late 1940s, he returned to Scotland to work on a farm in Aberdeenshire.

Some years later he returned to England to study at Lancashire Agricultural College, but he abandoned this pursuit to join the Royal Horse Guards in London, and he was present at the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953.

Iain then moved from London to Harrogate, where he was placed in the Army Education Corps. For three years he taught geography, history, English and maths to army apprentice boys, after which he returned to Scotland once again to work as a cattleman for a Russian baron at Erchless Castle in Strathglass. Later, he worked for five years as a shepherd in the remote area of Strathmore in Kintyre, where even the nearest phone was twenty-five miles away.

Eventually he returned to Inverness-shire in 1960 and bought an estate where he bred Aberdeen Angus cattle on a farm at Breakachy in Beauly. He kept the estate for about twenty years, but then sold it to buy a small yacht on which he took his wife and two young children to an isolated bay in Wester Ross where they were to live for the next four years. It was here that he wrote his first book Isolation Shepherd, a vivid account of their life and experiences there until they were eventually forced to leave when the area was flooded as part of a huge hydro-electric project. Now widely recognised as a modern classic, the new edition of Isolation Shepherd will be published by Birlinn in May 2007.

Iain again took to the seas, but this time he bought a larger ocean-going vessel and sailed around the Hebrides for ten years. During this decade he also worked on Mingulay. When he finally came ashore he bought land in Strathglass and founded Strathglass Organic Farms. It was around this time that Iain wrote his second book, The Long Horizon (Strathglass Books, 1999), which was released as a new edition by Birlinn in 2002.

Iain maintained his passion for the sea and in 2000 he sailed with some companions to the Canary Islands. Four years later he sailed from the Caribbean to Fort William. He wrote his third book, The Endless Tide, shortly after this, and it was published by Birlinn in 2005.

Iain currently lives outside Inverness and has just finished writing a book of poetry.

Related books

Isolation Shepherd – New Edition
Isolation Shepherd – New Edition