Into the Mountain
In the 1930s Nan Shepherd was one of Scotland’s best-known writers. Three novels, The Quarry Wood, The Weatherhouse and A Pass in the Grampians – as well as a volume of poetry, In the Cairngorms – were all published between 1928 and 1934 while she was in her 30s. These books established her reputation as one of the most highly respected members of the Scottish Modernist movement.
Then, much later, in 1977, came The Living Mountain, a short but powerful reflection on her experiences walking in the Cairngorms – a book which was immediately described as a masterpiece by some of the original reviewers. Incredibly, the manuscript of The Living Mountain had been in Nan’s drawer since the 1940s when she first wrote it. It is now a widely read classic. But just as the manuscript had lain unpublished for all those years, it wasn’t really until ten years ago that the genius of this book was truly discovered when it was re-published with an introductory essay by Robert Macfarlane. Nan died in 1981 before any of this later success took place.
Nan Shepherd was an intensely private woman. But the author of this first biography, Charlotte Peacock, has been as successful in finding her way into the life of her subject as was Nan herself, in her words, in “finding her way into the mountains”. She has had unparalleled access to all of Nan’s archives and to her remaining friends and acquaintances. This biography also provides its readers with both a superbly crafted social portrait of North East Scotland in the early 20th century and a first-rate account of the Scottish literary scene and its key figures, such as Neil Gunn and Hugh MacDiarmid, during those years.
Into the Mountain unravels the mysteries of this enigmatic writer and in doing so brings her vividly to life. The book is a beautifully written and highly accessible biography of Nan that will surely lead an even wider audience to her in the years to come.