Montrose at the time with the likes of Hugh MacDairmid (then editor of the Montrose Review) and Fionn McColla (who attended the same school) amongst his wide circle of acquaintances. This also included Stuart Hood and Edward Baird – one of the lesser-known artists of the Scottish ‘colourist’ school, who is only now beginning to have his work recognised. The portrait of him is by Edward Baird and was done in 1942 as a thank you for being given a set of pastels as artists materials were very difficult to come by during the war. Baird was a notoriously slow worker which may explain the stern expression in the portrait.
He decided to concentrate his talents on trying to capture the nuances of the Scots tongue on paper – especially that spoken in Glenesk. His two published novels ‘The Sheltering Pine’ and ‘The Homecoming’ were both set in Glenesk. They were published by Hutchinson but had a limited print run due to wartime shortages and soon became unobtainable.
Trying something different he decided to write a fictionalised account of the adventures of James Carnegy of Balnamoon of whom many stories were told in Glenesk, where Carnegy was looked on as something of a local hero. Encouraged and helped by Margaret (or Greta as she was more commonly known) Michie, a life-long friend, he tracked down all the tales and hard evidence and the end result was ‘Balnamoon’. However the book was rejected and after this disappointment he gave up writing novels and never re-submitted ‘Balnamoon’ for publication in spite of many pleas to do so by Greta Michie. However it is now in print having been published by Invermark Books.
Turning his attention to the short story he felt he had found his forte and produced a short story in Scots every year for the ‘Braemar Annual’ and also contributed regularly to the ‘Scots Magazine’, having numerous short stories and non-fiction articles published over the years. These were usually illustrated by Colin Gibson and grew to form a considerable body of work.
In his fifties he began to write poetry with some success, his best known being ‘Genesis’, ‘The Linen by Loch Lee’ and ‘Auld Donald’s Prayer’. He continued to produce poems and short stories right up until his death in March 1968.