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Robin Jenkins

Robin Jenkins OBE (11 September 1912 - 24 February 2005) was a Scottish writer of thirty-four published novels, the most celebrated being The Cone Gatherers.

Robin Jenkins was born John Robin Jenkins in Flemington near Cambuslang in 1912;[1] his father died when John was only seven years old and he and his three siblings were brought up by his mother in straitened circumstances. However, he won a bursary to attend the former Hamilton Academy then a famous fee-paying school [2]. The theme of escaping circumstances through education at such a school was to form the basis of Jenkins's later novel Happy for the Child (1953) [3] Winning a scholarship, he subsequently studied Literature at the University of Glasgow, graduating in 1936. During the Second World War, he registered as a conscientious objector and was sent to work in forestry (a theme that would re-appear in The Cone Gatherers). Upon the release of his first novel, So Gaily Sings the Lark in 1951, he shortened his writing name to 'Robin Jenkins'.

In the early years of his writing career, Jenkins worked as an English and History teacher. In the 1950s, he taught at Riverside Senior Secondary in Glasgow's East End and later moved with his family to Dunoon where he taught at the prestigious Dunoon Grammar School. He also spent four formative years at the Gaya School in Sabah, Borneo, living there with his wife May and their children. Before that, he had held British Council teaching posts in both Kabul and Barcelona. [4]

His best-known novel, The Cone Gatherers, is based upon his forestry work as a conscientious objector and is often studied in Scottish schools. While The Cone Gatherers has been criticised as being devoid of any real sense of place, other novels such as The Thistle and the Grail, his 1954 football story, paint vivid pictures of more accessible settings. His writing typically touches on many themes, including morality, the struggle between good and evil, war, class and social justice. Just Duffy is another of his novels which focuses on such themes, in a style which has been compared to that of the earlier Scottish writer, James Hogg.

Jenkins was awarded the OBE in 1999 and in 2003 received the Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun prize from the Saltire Society for his lifetime achievement. His portrait, by Jennifer McRae, is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery of Scotland. The Robin Jenkins Literary Award has been established in his name. [5]

Robin Jenkins died in 2005, aged 92; his novel The Pearl-fishers was published posthumously in 2007.


  • So Gaily Sings the Lark (1950)
  • Happy for the Child (1953)
  • The Thistle and the Grail (1954)
  • The Cone Gatherers (1955)
  • Guests of War (1956)
  • The Missionaries (1957)
  • The Changeling (1958)
  • Love Is a Fervent Fire (1959)
  • Dust on the Paw (1961)
  • The Tiger of Gold (1962)
  • A Love of Innocence (1963)
  • The Sardana Dancers (1964)
  • A Very Scotch Affair (1968)
  • Holy Tree (1969)
  • Exploitation (1970)
  • Toast to the Lord (1972)
  • Far Cry from Bowmore (1973)
  • Figure of Fun (1974)
  • A Would-be Saint (1978)
  • Road to Alto (1979)
  • Fergus Lamont (1979)
  • Third World Atlas (1984)
  • The Awakening of George Darroch (1985)
  • Just Duffy (1988)
  • Poverty Castle (1991)
  • Willie Hogg (1993)
  • Leila (1995)
  • Lunderston Tales (1996)
  • Matthew and Sheila (1998)
  • Poor Angus (2000)
  • Childish Things (2001)
  • Lady Magdalen (2003)
  • Some Kind of Grace (2004)
  • The Pearl-fishers (2007)


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