Sunset Song is the first and most celebrated of Grassic Gibbon's great trilogy, A Scot's Quair. It is hard to find any other Scottish novel of the last century which has received wider acclaim and better epitomises the feelings of a nation.
James Leslie Mitchell, 'Lewis Grassic Gibbon' (1901-35), was born and brought up in the rich farming land of Scotland's North East coast. After a brief and unsuccessful journalistic career, he joined the Royal Army Service Corps in 1919 serving in Persia, India and Egypt. Thereafter he spent a further six years as a clerk in the RAF. He married Rebecca Middleton in 1925, and became a full-time writer in 1929. The young couple settled in Welwyn Garden City where they lived until the writer's death in 1935. Mitchell published a number of short stories and articles and his first book, Hanno, or the Future of Exploration appeared in 1928. Seven novels followed under his own name, Stained Radiance (1930); The Thirteenth Disciple (1931); Three Go Back (1932); Image and Superscription (1933); The Lost Trumpet (1932); Spartacus (1933) and Gay Hunter (1934). In the same year Mitchell collaborated with Hugh MacDiarmid to make Scottish Scene, which contained three of Mitchell's best short stories, later collected in A Scots Hairst (1969). He adopted his mother's name for his finest work, the trilogy A Scots Quair, which comprised Sunset Song, Cloud Howe and Grey Granite written between 1932 and 1934. Dogged by ill health at the end, Mitchell died of a perforated ulcer at the age of only thirty-four.