Edinburgh Research Explorer

Alan Jamieson

(Former employee or visitor)

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Willingness to take PhD students: Yes


Robert Alan was born in Shetland in 1958, where he grew up. After publishing two novels and a collection of poems while in his twenties, he attended the University of Edinburgh as a mature student. Subsequently he held the William Soutar Fellowship in Perth, was co-editor of Edinburgh Review from 1992 till 1998 and writer-in-residence at the universities of Glasgow and Strathclyde from 1998 until 2001. Since 1993 he has pioneered the teaching of creative writing at the University of Edinburgh, initially through the Office of Lifelong Learning, from 1998 at undergraduate level and, since 2002, the post-graduate Masters in Creative Writing. His third novel A Day at the Office (1991) was placed among The List's '100 Best Scottish Books' in 2006, while his poetry in Shetlandic Scots, as published in Nort Atlantik Drift (1999/2007) and Ansin t'Sjaetlin: some responses to the language question (2005), has been translated into Arabic, Basque, Catalan, Czech, Dutch, English, Esperanto, Estonian, Finnish, German, Greek, Hebrew, Icelandic, Irish Gaelic, Italian, Latvian, Norwegian, Polish, Scots Gaelic, Spanish, Ukrainian and Welsh. As a result of his work with the organisation Literature Across Frontiers, he has translated the work of over thirty contemporary European poets into Scots and English. He has also written for the stage, and collaborated with the composer David Ward and the painter Graeme Todd. His fourth novel Da Happie Laand was shortlisted for the Saltire Book of the Year in 2010, the Scottish Book of the Year in 2011, and longlisted for the Dublin IMPAC prize in 2012. In 2013, he was the subject of a biographical film directed by Susan Kemp, which premiered at the Glasgow Film Festival in February 2014, before touring Shetland as part of the Screenplay festival in August of that year. It was subsequently screened at the StAnza International Poetry Festival in 2015.

Research Interests

Robert Alan’s main interest is contemporary Scottish literature, in which field he includes the work of writers living in Scotland now, regardless of place of origin. His early study was the work of the Scottish Renaissance – MacDiarmid, Gibbon, Gunn, Muir, Soutar - and Scots literature/language writing generally. Currently, his main historical interest is the ‘lost’ literature of his native Shetland, which has led to his involvement in a number of events, most recently the year-long Writing the North project led by his colleague Professor Penny Fielding. The project website can be found at www.writingthenorth.com


Robert Alan's work as a translator of contemporary European poetry through organisations such as Literature Across Frontiers has encouraged a growing interest in this vast and varied field, and he recently has collected over a hundred translations into a volume to be published in 2017 as A Hundir Inboos till a Diein Lied (One Hundred Welcomes to a Dying Language)

He is currently at work completing his fifth novel, loosely based on the life of James Alexander Teit, the Shetland-born Canadian ethnographer and native-rights activist, a project which has involved a number of research trips to British Columbia and the Yukon, thanks to a major travel grant from the then Scottish Arts Council in 2011. This novel is due for publication at the 'World Congress of Scottish Literatures' in Vancouver, in June 2017.


In January 2017, Verbivoracious Press published a new edition of his 1991 novel 'A Day at the Office' with an introduction by Dr Rodge Glass of Edge Hill University.

Research outputs

  1. Partition

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingOther chapter contribution

  2. macCloud Falls

    Research output: Book/ReportBook

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Research activities & awards

  1. StAnza

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesPublic Engagement – Festival/Exhibition

  2. Robert Alan Jamieson

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesPublic Engagement – Public lecture/debate/seminar

  3. Ullapool Book Festival

    Activity: Participating in or organising an event typesPublic Engagement – Festival/Exhibition

View all (28) »

ID: 10960