Hugh MacDiarmid

11th August 1892 to 9th September 1978
Hugh MacDiarmid

Hugh MacDiarmid wrote in Gaelic, Lallans (literary Lowland Scots) and English, and is best known for his long poem, A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle, a book-length work which is widely regarded as one of the most important long poems in contemporary Scottish literature. He has published several books in English and Scots.

MacDiarmid was an important figure in the Scottish Renaissance of the 20th century, a Communist, and a Scottish Nationalist. He was expelled from both parties for belonging to the other. He was a central figure in the creation of a Scottish version of modernism, and is considered to have redefined Scottish poetry.

Hugely influenced by Burns and determined to rid Scottish literature of its sentimentalised reek, MacDiarmid wrote uncompromising poetry, using the languages of Scotland to redraw the literary landscape.

MacDiarmid is commemorated in Makar’s Court in Edinburgh.