Ron Butlin






        I have published over a dozen books of poetry and fiction

        Several have won Scottish Book Awards and other prizes

        My work has been translated into over ten languages – the French edition of The Sound of My Voice won the Prix Lucioles and Prix Millepages (both for Best Foreign Novel)

        My most recent publication is a collection of poetry The Magicians of Edinburgh (2012) which is now in its second reprint.

        I have recently completed a novel.

      (Please see WRITING) for more details.


During the last year I’ve given workshops at various schools and delivered talks, speeches or taken part in panel discussions on BBC radio, at the House of Lords, National Gallery of Scotland and elsewhere. I also participated in several festivals here and abroad.

In general, I've given countless readings, lectures andworkshops (creative writing and similar) catering for a variety of professional backgrounds.  There are too many to itemise, but here are some main categories:

        Creative writing workshops for primary and secondary schools and for various organisations in the UK, e.g. WEA, Scottish Book Trust, the Arvon Foundation, OLL (Edinburgh University), etc.

        Workshops, seminars, leading discussions and giving speeches at various institutions, e.g. the Scottish Government, local councils, National Skills Academy, National Library of Scotland, National Galley of Scotland etc.

        Workshops and seminars abroad, under the auspices of the British Council and others, in Bahrain, Canada, Hungary, Mauritius, Nigeria, Portugal, Switzerland and others.

        Countless visits to give workshops at primary and secondary schools, including a year based in Craigmillar (Edinburgh)

        Many state schools across Scotland as well as private schools such as Fettes and Loretto.

        University level, both graduate, post-graduate

        In-services for teachers (at various institutions and conferences), and teacher training at Jordanhill College and Moray House

        Regular discussion groups for ECAT (Edinburgh Contemporary Arts Trust) re concert series at the Queen’s Hall

        I currently teach four courses at Edinburgh University’s OLL on music appreciation.


        I have collaborated on five operas, most recently providing libretti for Scottish Opera.

        I have collaborated with a wide range of contemporary composers providing texts for a concerto (Naxos CD), symphonies (Delphian CD), chamber pieces and song cycles.

        I have worked extensively in theatre, writing and devising plays, working with actors and directors.

        My most recent play was Sweet Dreams at Oran Mor (2012)

        I have worked a great deal with the BBC – plays, talks, panel discussions etc.

        I work frequently with musicians, both jazz (a regular show on the Fringe and elsewhere) and classical (opera, music theatre).


At the age of eleven Ron Butlin left the very small Borders village of Hightae where he’d been brought up. His move into the market-town of Dumfries began a process of enforced civilisation from which he has still to recover. Not even after forty years, which has included living in London, Paris and now Edinburgh, does he really feel at home in cities. This split is very much evident in his poetry and fiction.

At sixteen he hitchhiked down to London where he did nothing for a while (he saw The Stones in Hyde Park, went up in a lift with Paul McCartney - such was life in those days). Finally, in quick succession, he secured the positions of valet-footman, barnacle scraper on Thames barges, computer operator and city messenger. Finally he became an associate member of a rather dismal and forgotten pop-group for whom he wrote song lyrics. In less than eight months, and on the strength of two records and a B-film, he retired for good. Without music, his lyrics did their best to become poems.

After drifting around abroad for a year or so he returned to a life of intense unemployment. This was when he began to write in earnest. Over the course of several years he did very little else. Eventually, however, the Government decided it was time he made a meaningful contribution to society and, as an incentive, stopped his dole money. Spurred into action he became a male model - for students at the Edinburgh College of Art. As well as broadening his social life, this allowed him to sit and do nothing for hours on end, leaving his imagination completely free. His earliest published poems date from this period.

Rather belatedly, he became a student and read philosophy, for the most part, at Edinburgh University. There are more people writing poetry than reading it, and precious few buying it. So, to stay alive, he learned to diversify. Starting as always with a first line that seemed to come from nowhere and then took him to a place that he never knew existed yet felt - for him at any rate - true in the deepest sense of the word, he began to write short stories, novels and even opera libretti. Occasionally, journalism too. Also, he discovered that he enjoyed working with young children, helping them to get in touch with their imaginations and write poems, stories or whatever. Thanks to a scheme run by the Scottish Arts Council he was doing this two days a week - fun, but exhausting, and these days he’s down to around two a month!

With an international reputation as a prize-winning novelist, Ron Butlin is now one of Scotland’s most acclaimed writers. His works include the novels The Sound of My Voice (winner of the Prix Mille Pages 2004 and Prix Lucioles 2005, both for Best Foreign Novel), Night Visits and most recently Belonging, three collections of stories, The Tilting Room, Vivaldi and the Number 3 and, most recently, No More Angels as well as six books of poetry. Besides his radio plays much of his work has been broadcast in Britain and abroad. His fiction and poetry have been translated into over ten languages.

He lives in Edinburgh with his wife, the writer Regi Claire, and their dog.




The Sound Of My Voice
'One of the greatest pieces of fiction to come out of Britain in the 80s'
Irvine Welsh


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