Poet Norman MacCaig was born in Edinburgh but shared his time between the capital and Assynt in Sutherland. Initially a primary school teacher, MacCaig later worked at Edinburgh and Stirling Universities reading creative writing and poetry. A conscientious objector during World War II, MacCaig remained a committed pacifist throughout his life.
Sharing his time between the city and the far north of Scotland influenced much of his poetry; the contrasts were for him complementary rather than contradictory. His first poetry collection, Far Cry, was published in 1943, the second, The Inward Eye, in 1955; both of these collections were classed as part of the ‘New Apocalypse’ movement. Later works were much more individual and hard to classify – which is probably how MacCaig liked it.
In 1975 MacCaig won the Cholmondeley Award, and in 1986 he won the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry. His Collected Poems first appeared in 1985 and has been reissued several times, the last edition of which appeared in 2010.
Although his mother was a Gaelic speaker, Norman MacCaig only wrote in English. He died in Edinburgh in January 1996.