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Orkney
Orkney

Eric Robert Russell Linklater lived from 8 March 1899 to 7 November 1974. He was an author who wrote 23 novels, plus a great deal more. The wider picture in Scotland at the time is set out in our Historical Timeline.

Eric Linklater was born in Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, but spent much of his childhood in Orkney and considered himself an Orcadian, like his father. His mother was the daughter of a Swedish-born sea captain who had become a naturalised British citizen. He was educated at Aberdeen Grammar School, and then embarked on a medical degree at the University of Aberdeen. His studies were interrupted by military service with the Black Watch Regiment during World War One, during which he received a head wound and spent a number of months in hospital.

After the war he returned to the University of Aberdeen, but switched his subject to English literature, in which he graduated before embarking on a career in journalism. In 1925 he became assistant editor of the Times of India, and in 1927 he went to the USA, an experience that fed his humorous novel about prohibition, Juan in America, published in 1931.

In 1933 Eric Linklater married Marjorie MacIntyre, and in the same year stood unsuccessfully as a National Party for Scotland candidate in a by-election. During World War Two he served as a Major in the Royal Engineers helping strengthen the defences of the Grand Fleet's Orkney base at Scapa Flow. He then helped recover art treasures lost in Italy during the war.

After the war he resumed his literary output, producing in all 23 novels with a very wide range of subject matter, from biblical stories to anti-war morality tales, and from the cold war to Scottish nationalism. He also wrote plays for radio and stage, and a three volume autobiography. He died in 1974 and is buried in Harray Churchyard on Orkney.

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