Aboot Brisknortherly

Brisknortherly is the blog of prizewinning Scottish author and academic Simon W. Hall.

1997 MA First Class Honours in Scottish Language and Literature from the University of Glasgow. Glasgow University Ewing Prize for Scottish Literature.

2004 PhD in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow.

20052017 Principal Teacher of English, Kirkwall Grammar School.

2010 Publication of The History of Orkney Literature (Birlinn). Wins Saltire Society Prize for Scottish First Book of the Year. Shortlisted for Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust Book Award.

2014 – The History of Orkney Literature translated into Japanese and published in Tokyo (Alba Shobo).

2014 – 2016 Seconded to Education Scotland, working as a Scots Language Coordinator.

2015 – Translated Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo into Orcadian. Published as The Orkney Gruffalo by Itchy Coo in October 2015. The Orkney Gruffalo sold out in six weeks, and was Orkney’s best selling book in 2015.

2015 – George Mackay Brown Memorial Lecture, Stromness, July 2015, ‘The State and Status of Orkney Language’.

Visiting lecturer on Scottish Literature and Scots Language at Strathclyde University, Aberdeen University, the University of the Highlands and Islands, University of Shizuoka, University of Doshishu (Kyoto) and University of Takushoku (Tokyo).

Speaker on Orkney history and writers, Scottish Literature, folklore, Scots Language at St. Magnus Festival, Orkney Book Festival, Association for Scottish Literary Studies conferences, teachers’ conferences, Heritage Societies, Archaeology Societies, Burns Suppers etc.

2016 – Translated Julia Donaldson’s The Gruffalo’s Child into Orcadian. Published as The Gruffalo’s Bairn.

Member of Association for Scottish Literary Studies Education Committee.

Awarded Professional Recognition from the General Teaching Council Scotland for Scots Language teaching.

2016 – Consultant on Scots and Orcadian entries for the Oxford English Dictionary.

Articles and papers on Scottish Language and Literature in The Herald, The Scotsman, The Orcadian, Scotland on Sunday, the Edinburgh Evening News, the Times Educational Supplement for Scotland, the Times Literary Supplement, Scottish Review, Northern Studies.

Poetry published in Orkney Stoor (Abersee Press, 2015), Poetry Scotland, and The Herald.

Introduction to Kennedy and Boyd edition of Margaret Elphinstone’s novel Islanders (1993).

2016 – Introduction to Orcadians: Seven Impromptus – George Mackay Brown, with drawings and paintings by Simon Manfield (Ketillonia, 2016). Dr John Cumming Memorial Lecture at the Orkney Science Festival – ‘The Man who found the Herring: Samuel Laing of Papdale’

2017 – Poetry in The Cafe Review, Portland, Maine. May 15th Short Fiction ‘Pagan Dawn’ in Speak for Ourselves, Abersee Press.

2018 – Awarded funding from Creative Scotland’s Open Project Fund to complete Pagan Dawn, a contemporary Orkney novel, featuring extended sections written in the Orcadian variety of the Scots language. Set across the expansive North Isles of Orkney, the book charts the complicated progress of an unlikely cross-cultural relationship between millionaire Orcadian farmer Harcus Craigie, and visiting English academic and archaeologist, Dawn Blackmore.

2018 – Present Head Teacher, Westray Junior High School, Orkney

Praise for The History of Orkney Literature:

  • ‘A treasure trove of inspiration. People will be reading it with pleasure in fifty, a hundred years’ time’ – Duncan McLean, Orkney Today
  • ‘Hall pulls it off without dropping a stitch, without lecturing or dullifying. Uncompromising in its tone and research, it amounts to an Orkney literary tapestry.’ – Peggy Hughes, Scotland on Sunday
  • ‘A wonderful celebration of the great literary writing from this northern archipelago’ Dan Mackay, John O Groat Journal
  • ‘In reading these and other texts of the island canon, Hall’s mapping of Orkney literature can serve us as the authoritative guide to a specifically Orcadian mapping of universal humanity.’ International Journal of Scottish Literature
  • ‘… the book’s argumentative persuasiveness is clinched by the sheer excellence of its writing. It succeeds in being totally readable, while not giving an inch on its academic solidity. Its scholarship will make it invaluable in university libraries, while its accessibility will justify its prominence in bookshops across the land. This passionate discussion, apparently just the filling of an academic gap, is a strikingly successful first book.’ Dr David Robb, University of Dundee, Saltire Society Panel Judge

Praise for The Orkney Gruffalo:

  • ‘Just thought I’d let you know the book went down a treat with wee man. He has had it read to him umpteen times. He even took it to pre school for the teacher to see, so she used his copy to read to the class. (PS I actually enjoyed reading too, but we’ll keep that to ourselves lol.)’ Kirkwall Dad.
  • ‘Thanks for dropping the books by. I read it with Magnus right after you left. It is absolutely brilliant!! I’m no kidding, it’s great!! I thought it was just the same story written in dialect, but it’s so much more, the way you have written it is fantastic. Very proud of you and to be Orcadian. Love it!! OK, enough gushing! But will recommend it to everyone.’ Kirkwall Mum.

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