Writer Wins Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship

by Alastair Hamilton -

Shetland author Malachy Tallack has been awarded a Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship, entitling him to some quiet writing time in France.

Malachy, who is currently based in Glasgow, has written for the New Statesman, The Guardian, The Scottish Review of Books, Caught By the River and many other publications, online and in print. He won a New Writer's Award from the Scottish Book Trust in 2014 and his first book, Sixty Degrees North, will be published by Polygon in 2015.

He is also well established as a singer-songwriter. He has released four albums and an EP, and performed in venues across the UK. He is editor of the online magazine The Island Review, and co-editor of Fair Isle: Through the Seasons.

Malachy is one of four published writers to win one of the 2015 fellowships, which are awarded by the Scottish Book Trust and supported by Creative Scotland. Each will enjoy a month long residency in a self-catering apartment at the Hôtel Chevillon International Arts Centre at Grez-sur-Loing in France, together with all travel and a bursary of £300 per week. The location was chosen because of its connections with Robert Louis Stevenson, who first visited in 1875 and met his future wife, Fanny Osbourne, there.

During the residency, Malachy will be working on a novel set in Shetland, which he began late last year. He said:

"I'm absolutely delighted to receive an RLS Fellowship. It means a great deal to have the support of the Scottish Book Trust, and the chance to spend a month working solely on this project will be a huge boost towards completing the novel."

Robert Louis Stevenson had a Shetland connection, too. His grandfather, Robert, was responsible for the lighthouse at Sumburgh Head and in 1869, as a young man, he visited Muckle Flugga Lighthouse, off the island of Unst at Shetland's northern extremity. It had been built by his father, Thomas, and David Stevenson. It has been suggested that Stevenson used Unst as a template for the map in Treasure Island and there is certainly a passing resemblance.

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