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The four novels in this book give four very different and memorably vivid accounts of what it was like to be young and growing up in Glasgow and the west of Scotland, from the 1930s to the 1960s. "Poor Tom" tells of a young man's struggle to come to terms with the slow death of his brother in the city slums of a culturally impoverished Scotland. "Fernie Brae" celebrates the growth and education of a sensitive boy. "From Scenes Like These" tells a grim story as its young protagonist eventually succumbs to a culture of drink and violence where the harshness of life on the land sits next to industrial sprawl. The humorous style of "Apprentice" strikes a happier note from the 1960s.
Born in Orkney in 1887, Edwin Muir is best known as a poet. When he was fourteen his family moved to Glasgow, and Poor Tom reflects something of the trauma of that experience. J.F. Hendry was born IN Glasgow in 1912. He was an influential poet and editor of the New Apocalypse movement in the 1940s, along with G.S. Fraser and the young Norman MacCaig. Gordon M. Williams was born in Paisley in 1934. After he left school and became a reporter and settled in London. His other books include Walk Don't Walk and The Siege of Trencher's Farm, filmed by Sam Peckinpah as Straw Dogs. Tom Gallagher was born in Dunbartonshire in 1934. One of the most successful Scottish dramatists of the 1970s, his plays include Mr Joyce is Leaving Paris (1970) and Revival! (1972). Apprentice is the first in a series of three books following the career of the same character. Dr Liam McIlvanney is a Lecturer in English at the University of Aberdeen. He has published on modern Scottish writing and is the author of Burns the Radical: Poetry and Politics in Late Eighteenth-Century Scotland (2002). He is General Editor of the Association for Scottish Literary Studies and a reviewer for the Times Literary Supplement.