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Page last updated at 15:33 GMT, Tuesday, 2 February 2010
Lewis Grassic Gibbon celebrated
Sunset Song with Vivien Heilbron
BBC Scotland transmitted Sunset Song on television in 1971

Lewis Grassic Gibbon is one of the greats of Scottish literature. BBC Radio Scotland dedicated a day to the son of the Mearns to mark the 75th anniversary of his death on 6 February.

"Sunset Song, Return to the Mearns" explored the landscape and legacy of the author. "Out of Doors, Exploring the Mearns" looked at ways of enjoying the North East area.

"Road to Sunset" examined the author's life. There was also a chance to listen to a radio dramatisation of "Sunset Song" adapted by Gerda Stevenson.

Prolific writer

Gibbon had a short life, dying at the age of 34 from peritonitis but he was a prolific writer and managed to write four novels, a number of short stories as well as works on archaeology and history, totalling 17 books over his lifetime.

Vivien Heilbron as Chris Guthrie
Vivien Heilbron as Chris Guthrie in the BBC's Sunset Song

The most famous of these is "Sunset Song", familiar to schoolchildren throughout Scotland alongside "Cloud Howe" and "Grey Granite" which form the "Scots Quair" trilogy.

Gibbon was born in Auchterless in Aberdeenshire in 1901 as James Leslie Mitchell, later taking the pen name of Lewis Grassic Gibbon for his fictional works.

Gibbon worked firstly as a journalist and then joined the Royal Army Service Corps, followed by the RAF where he served in the Middle East. He turned to writing full-time in 1929.

Rural North East

Sunset Song was first published in 1932 and adapted for a television series by the BBC in 1971 with Vivien Heilbron taking the lead as Chris Guthrie, developing her intellectual and sexual development within rural North East Scotland before the onset of World War I. The series featured BBC Scotland's first nude scene.

In 2005, Sunset Song was voted the country's top book at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, beating Irvine Welsh's cult novel "Trainspotting" to the top spot.

A play "Grassic Gibbon" celebrating Gibbon's life and work toured Scotland in 2009, proving his relevance in the country's cultural landscape today. Heilbron was once again on board providing the narration for the play.

Although tied to the rural North East, Gibbon's writing has universal themes that reach far beyond Scotland's borders.




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