Two Closes and a Referendum

two-closes-final version of front cover

Published by Ringwood in 2017. Human drama meets political activism (on both sides)! A novel set in Glasgow’s East End during the Scottish independence referendum campaign of 2014. Endorsed by broadcaster Billy Kay, author and historian Elspeth King and former Minister for Culture Linda Fabiani.

Interview with the author about Two Closes and a Referendum

Stirring the Dust   

First edition published by Argyll in 2012.
Illustrated fictionalised tales of members of Mary’s family tree (1830s-1960s) who in some way broke with convention. Written variously in Doric, Glaswegian and English with a dash of Gaelic, the book came out in both hardback and paperback. It was endorsed by authors James Robertson, Janet Paisley, Margaret Oliphant and Matthew Fitt and was Paperback of the Week in the Herald.

Ringwood plan to bring out a new edition.

Stirring the Dust: Herald Book of the Week

Everwinding Times

Front Cover

A novel on a psychic theme published by Argyll (with support from the Scottish Arts Council) in 1994. To be re-issued by Ringwood.

From Ringwood Meet the Author Interview

Streets Schemes and Stages – Social Work’s Year of the Arts

Streets Schemes and StagesCo-written with Ewan McVicar. In 1990 Glasgow was European Capital of Culture. This illustrated book describing Social Work’s contribution is still a mainstay on academic bibliographies.
“A fine mix of well-documented official report … and superb evocation through descriptions, quotes and photographs, and for a while it became a kind of bible for those who wanted to demonstrate that Glasgow 1990 had not been only about big-ticket events.”

Joyce McMillan (reviewer and journalist)

Die zauberhafte Reise

This children’s novella published in 1985 in translation by Schneider Verlag sold over 35,000 hardback copies.Die zauberhafte Reise

Other published work (some examples below)

Dozens of poems and short stories (in English, Scots and Gaelic) have been published in anthologies and in literary journals such as Chapman and Edinburgh Review. Also feature articles in newspapers (Herald, Daily Record, Times Educational Supplement) and magazines. Mary has occasionally read her work on radio.

She carried out the research for Alasdair Gray’s 2014 book Independence

She contributed a chapter of Growing and Dying (book about the work of Janet Paisley, ed. Linda Jackson, pub.2018)


Comin Back ower the Border    Scottish Arts Council Poem of the Month Feb 2005. Also anthologised in Rotten English (ed. Dohra Ahmad pub. Norton) and in Lallans Hairst 2004

Walking the Tock  An odyssey through insomnia! Appeared on Scottish Refugee Council website. Then in Nuestra Voz Notre Voix Our Voice (PEN International 2008)

Eòrpa  Pub. in Gaelic in Poetry Scotland #16 (2001) and in English as Scotland into Europe in Chapman 100/101 (2002)

Tap Table    Poem in Scots on similar theme to Scotland in Europe. Lallans #73 (2008)


High Kirk on Ulva  Lallans #69 (2006)
Also published in Gaelic as Eaglais ann an Ulbha in An Guth #3 (2005)

Merch o the Baby-Boomers   Poem about a life spent on protest marches. Runner-up Border Ballad in the Yarrow Ettrick and Selkirk  Literary Festival 2015
Prizes were awarded by the Duke of Buccleuch in his palace in rural Selkirkshire. Led to a bizarre conversation:
Duke: You’re right. The younger generation don’t go on protest marches the way we did. After all, nobody came out in protest against the Iraq war!
Me: Yes they did!
Duke: Where?
Me: A million in London! 100,000 in Glasgow – including me!
Duke: Well, they didn’t come here!

Negotiation  Lallans # 69 (2006)

Sperr Chinge, Please  The Cry of the Poor (2021) and in Chapman #100/101 (2002)

The Luck o the Leid  Lallans # 62 (2003)

Theory of Relativity  Poetry Postcard pub. by Scottish Book Trust for National Poetry Day 2001.

Tightrope Walker Scottish PEN online journal PENning The Warming World (2010 – now deleted)

Missing Link   Lallans #69 (2006) also PEN online journal PENning Spirit (2012 – now deleted)

Soond shift  Lallans #73 (2008)

Goliath  August 2018 edition of PEN online journal PENning Smeddum

Who Killed the Truth?  Dec 2019 edition of PEN online journal PENning Truth

Stories sans Glory
to be published in Culture Matters (radical poetry anthology) in 2020

The Airt o Declaration
to be published in Culture Matters (radical poetry anthology) in 2020

The Liberty Line Published in October 2015 edition of PEN online journal PENning Celebration and on the Dove Tales website

Double Helix  Poem in mixed Doric, Gaelic, Glaswegian and Standard English – languages colour-coded! Inspired by my own family tree. Lallans #65 (2004)

Up an doon an roon  Lallans #65 (2004)

Nae Quarter   Lallans #65 (2004)

Voyagers 2003  Lallans #65 (2004)

Maide-Crochaidh Hanging stick    Published in PEN’s 2020 anthology “Declarations” commemorating the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath

Gaelic Haikus based on the Ogham  (Celtic Tree Alphabet)
The Gaelic versions of the first six haikus (Birch, Willow, Hawthorn, Oak, Hazel and Fir) appeared in the Scottish/Irish  journal An Guth #2 (2004).
The Gaelic and English version of Whins/Gorse appeared in the anthology Into the Forest (2013 ed Mandy Haggith)

Haikus written in China  Haikus sgriobhta ann an Siona
2 haikus each in Gaelic & in English: one about Shanghai and the other about the Great Wall. Pub Causeway/Cabhasair    Volume 2 Issue 2 (2011)

Later Stories
(stories published pre-1995 are only available in hard-copy anthologies)

Doon the Careers Office Ghosts of the Early Morning Shift (2021)

Blue genes back when Markings #24 (2007)

Blasted by Sands  Different Boundaries (1995) also HarperCollins Flamingo Book of New Scottish Writing (1998)

Gathering Winter Fuel  Chapman #100/101 (2002)

Harbinger  Edinburgh Review #107 (2001)


  • The Crop
  • Ein fatales Erbe
  • Auf der Schulweg
    These three radio plays were broadcast in translation by Suddeutscher Rundfunk, Schweizer Rundfunk and Bayrischer Rundfunk. First broadcast in the 1980s, they were repeated until 2009.

Live Literature Author List

Through the Scottish Book Trust scheme (now Live Literature) Mary runs occasional talks, readings and workshops sometimes illustrated with slides and handouts. Specialities include:

  • Writing in Scots
  • Women as writers
  • Genealogy and writing

PEN International

The aims of PEN International include:

  • Celebrating literature
  • Defending free expression
  • Protecting writers at risk
  • Supporting writers in exile
  • Promoting linguistic rights and linguistic diversity

For women to have free speech, the right to read, the right to write, they need to have the right to roam physically, socially and intellectually.

Scottish PEN

“Here’s freedom to them that wad read,
Here’s freedom to them that wad write!
There’s nane ever fear’d that the truth should be heard,
But them whom the truth would indict.”  (Burns)

As a former member of the Executive Committee of the Scottish Branch of PEN International Mary produces their monthly newsletter.