Author details

Mary McCabe


As a writer I’m a jack-of-all trades. I’ve written for adults, for children, prose, poetry, drama, long works, short works, fiction and fact. As a political activist (and a committee member of PEN) I try to further all aspects of Scottish culture. I collect songs and sing them wherever I can find an audience; I keep fit by hill-walking in the country and country dancing in the town.


About writer's work

My grandmother came from Banffshire, I grew up in Glasgow, my partner is German and I took Higher Gaelic at night school. It is important to me to keep all our languages and dialects alive and so I have published work in Doric, Glaswegian, English and Gaelic as well as in translation in German. My themes vary but tend to concern ideas more than romantic love. Current themes are time, genealogy and evolution (after researching my own family tree) and politics (in the wake of the recent change of Scottish Government.

Current events and projects

Experienced in doing readings of my own work in English, Scots and Gaelic and in giving talks and holding workshops about writing in various forms of Scots and about problems faced particularly by women when writing. Have in the past led workshops on writing for children but not an expert in this field. Experienced also in setting and judging creative writing competitions. Will consider working anywhere within a day or even one overnight’s journey of Glasgow.

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

Other work

Donald and the Elemental (short story), Chapman No 31, Winter 1981 /2

The Wind’s Teeth and Uggie (short story), Cencrastus, Spring 1982

High Risk Tenement (short story) Chapman No 64, 1991, ISBN 0-906772-38-9

Moonrunning (short werewolf story) Original Prints (1) (Polygon), ISBN 1985 0904919986

Black Night’s Bargain, (Gothic short story) Understanding, 1990, ISSN=0956-430

What to Do About the Crisis (short story – political allegory set in Glasgow) Paper Clips, 1993, ISBN 1-874304-64-5

Blasted by Sands (short ghost story), HarperCollins Flamingo Book of New Scottish Writing, 1998, ISBN 0-00-655118-1

Harbinger (short story – psychic), Edinburgh Review No 107, 2001, ISBN 1-85933-201-3

Theory of Relativity (poem - Time), Poetry postcard/ National Poetry Day, 2001

Gathering Winter Fuel (short story – alternative futures) Chapman No 100/101, 2002, ISBN 1-903700-05-1

Eorpa (Gaelic poem: Scotland in Europe) Chapman No 100/101, 2002, ISBN 1-903700-05-1

Sperr Chinge Please (poem: beggars) Chapman No 100/101, 2002, ISBN 1-903700-05-1

Luck o the Leid (Scots poem: the development of language through time; relationship between humans and animals) Lallans No 62, 2003, ISSN 1359-3587

6 Ogham Haikus (Gaelic haikus), An Guth 2, 2004, ISSN 1649-4059

5 Scots poems- themes of time, travel and identity: Sicht an Soon, Double Helix, Voyagers, Up and doon an roon, Nae Quarter, Lallans No 65 (Sicht an Soon was also published on the SAC website as Scots poem of the month for Feb. 2005. Then US publisher WW Norton used it in their anthology

Rotten English – see below), 2004, ISSN 1359-3587

Eaglais an Ulbha (Gaelic poem: depopulation) An Guth 3, 2005, ISSN 1649-4059

Hunting Hypnos (an epic poem - 138 lines) about insomnia still appearing on the refugee week website, 2005

Missin Link, High Kirk on Ulva, Negotiation (3 Scots poems – themes of time, evolution, suicide), Lallans 69, 2006, ISSN 1359-3587

Comin back Ower the Border (previous title: Sicht an Soon) Scots poem Rotten English (anthology ed. Dohra Achmed, publisher W.W. Norton), 2007, ISBN 978-0-393-32960-5

Blue Genes Back When (short story – theme: evolution, genes, Glasgow) Markings 24, 2007, ISBN 978-1901913-01-9

Soon Shift, Tap Table (Scots poems about political change) Lallans No 73, 2008 I wrote the lyrics of a Christmas song Mungo Carol which the Sirens of Titan choir performed at their concert in the Oran Mor theatre (Glasgow) on Christmas Eve 2008

I wrote and read a story Bag Baby broadcast on BBC Radio Scotland on 4/2/2009.

Poems published for Refugee Week on the websites of Scottish PEN and of the Scottish Refugee Council: Tightrope Walker – Scottish PEN online magazine “New Writing” - 2010

Longer Work published in German in translation The Crop, Ein fatales Erbe/A fatal inheritance, Auf der Schulweg/Late for School Three radio plays broadcast by South German Radio, Bavarian Radio, Swiss Radio, in 1981, and repeated various other dates (most recently in 2009) Die zauberhafte Reise, (Children’s book published in German: fairies; odyssey; Scotland) Schneider, 1985, ISBN 3-505-08412-3


Local authority where they are based


Local authorities where they can work

Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Angus, Argyll and Bute, Clackmannanshire, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (Western Isles), Dumfries and Galloway, Dundee, East Ayrshire, East Dunbartonshire, East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Edinburgh, Falkirk, Fife, Glasgow, Highland, Inverclyde, Midlothian, Moray, North Ayrshire, North Lanarkshire, Orkney, Perth and Kinross, Renfrewshire, Scottish Borders, Shetland, South Ayrshire, South Lanarkshire, Stirling, West Dunbartonshire, West Lothian

Age groups

9-12, Adults

LL funded


BRAW network


Author type

Playwright, Poet, Writer


English, Gaelic, Scots

Books written

Two Closes and a Referendum front cover

Two Closes and a Referendum

Author(s): Mary McCabe
Human drama meets political activism (on both sides)! A novel set in Glasgow’s East End during the Scottish independence referendum campaign of 2014.
Stirring the Dust (Book Cover)

Stirring the Dust

Author(s): Mary McCabe
Extraordinary things unfold in Stirring the Dust. A corpse left unburied for fear of infection; a paranormal great-great aunt; bigamous and incestuous marriages; a runaway wife and her gypsy rover.
Streets, schemes and stages front cover

Streets, Schemes and Stages: Social Work's Year of the Arts

Co-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.
Everwinding Times front cover

Everwinding Times

Author(s): Mary McCabe
a novel on a psychic/time-travel theme