At the age of eleven I left the very small Borders village where I’d been brought up to move into the market-town of nearby Dumfries. Not even after  fifty years, which has included living in London, Paris and now Edinburgh, do I really feel at home in cities.

At sixteen I hitchhiked down to London where I did nothing for a while apart from live and hang out (I saw The Stones in Hyde Park, went up in a lift with Paul McCartney – such was everyday life back then). Finally, in quick succession, I secured the positions of valet-footman (see my novel, Billionaires’ Banquet, published In 2017), barnacle scraper on Thames barges, computer operator and city messenger. Finally I became an associate member of a justly forgotten pop-group for whom I wrote song lyrics. In less than eight months, and on the strength of two records and a B-film, I retired for good. Without music, my lyrics did their best to become poems.

I then drifted here and abroad for many years – my longest job (part-time) being as a male model for students at the Edinburgh College of Art. As well as broadening my social life, this allowed me to sit (usually more or less naked) and do nothing for hours on end, leaving my imagination completely free. My earliest published poems date from this period.

For a time I became a student and read philosophy, for the most part, at Edinburgh University.  Afterwards I lived off and on in Paris, in the hills above Barcelona, a commune in Australia as well as general drifting here and there. I learned to diversify. Poets have to. There are many more people writing poetry than reading it, and precious few buying it.

I write my fiction in much the same way I write poetry. Starting as always with a first line that seems to come from nowhere and then takes me to a place that I never knew existed yet feels – to me at any rate – true, in the deepest sense of the word. I write short stories, novels, plays and, more recently, opera libretti. Journalism too. Also, I soon discovered that I enjoyed working with children, helping them to get in touch with their imaginations and to write their own poems, stories or whatever. I now also write poetry and novels for children and teenagers.

For the last twenty-three years, my marriage to the writer Regi Claire has brought stability to my life – and about time too!


  • I have published nearly twenty books of poetry and fiction
  • Several have won Scottish Book Awards and other prizes. My most recent novel, Ghost Moon (Salt Publishing), was  nominated for the International Impac Dublin Literary Award 2016 – one of the most prestigious world book prizes.
  • My work has been translated into over a dozen languages – the French edition of The Sound of My Voice won the Prix Lucioles and Prix Millepages (both for Best Foreign Novel)
  • 2015 saw the publication of  The Magicians of Scotland (poetry, Polygon) and Here Come The Trolls! (verse for children, BC Books).
  • This year will see the publication of three new books! Billionaires’ Banquet (novel), FranDan & Steve Take on the World (novel for early teens) and Day of the Trolls! (verse for children)

(Please see WRITING for more details about my published work and my HOME page for launch details.)


I’ve delivered countless readings, talks, speeches or taken part in panel discussions at festivals, universities, schools and art centres all over the world, including Russia, Mauritius, Nigeria, Toronto Melbourne etc. etc. – from a one-roomed Shetland primary school to an Arab tent in the desert (most wonderfully accompanied by an oud player), from the Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh (standing room only!) to the House of Lords in London, to the Centre Pompidou in Paris  and elsewhere.

In addition, I’ve given countless talks and workshops catering for a variety of professional backgrounds as well as at primary and secondary schools. 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. My main concern is to help pupils get in touch with their imagination and to enjoy themselves!
  • Workshops, seminars, leading discussions and giving speeches at various institutions, e.g. universities here and abroad, the Scottish Government, local councils, National Skills Academy, National Library of Scotland, National Galley of Scotland, British Council etc.
  • Workshops and seminars abroad, often under the auspices of the British Council and others, in Central and Eastern Europe, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, Mauritius, Nigeria, Portugal, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, the Far East etc.
  • Countless visits to give workshops at primary and secondary schools, state and private (i.e. such as Fettes and Loretto), here and abroad
  • 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 give occasional lectures at Edinburgh University’s Centre for Open Learning on music appreciation.


  • I have collaborated on seven 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 for the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Edinburgh Quartet, Hebrides Ensemble, Tinderbox Orchestra etc .
  • 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
  • I have worked a great deal with the BBC – plays, talks, panel discussions etc.
  • I work frequently with musicians, both jazz (regular shows on the Fringe and elsewhere) and classical (opera, music theatre, concerts with the Edinburgh Quartet).
  • I regularly speak on composers and their music at Edinburgh Quartet concerts.
  • Most recently I had the pleasure to perform with the truly wonderful Tinderbox Orchestra (a youth orchestra – early teens to mid-twenties). Nearly 500 strong audience. It was, as they would say, awesome!

An international prize-winning novelist, Ron Butlin is a former Edinburgh Makar / Poet Laureate and one of Scotland’s most acclaimed writers. He has published several novels including The Sound of My Voice (winner of the Prix Mille Pages 2004 and Prix Lucioles 2005, both for Best Foreign Novel),  and most recently Ghost Moon (nominated for the International Impac Dublin Literary Award 2016); three collections of stories and a dozen books of poetry, including for children. Besides his radio plays much of his work has been broadcast in Britain and abroad. His fiction and poetry have been translated into over a dozen languages.
He lives in Edinburgh with his wife, the writer Regi Claire, and their dog.

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