The Changing Outer Hebrides by Frank Rennie
The Changing Outer Hebrides by Frank Rennie

The latest Highland Book Prize winner is revealed

The 2020 Highland Book Prize has been named as The Changing Outer Hebrides: Galson and the Meaning of Place by Frank Rennie.

This is an intimate account of the inter-relationship between one small island village in the Hebrides and the wider world. From the formation of the bedrock three billion years ago, to the predictable near-future, the layers of this unique landscape are explored. The social history of the people is closely interwoven with the natural environment in a journey of deep mapping to consider the meaning of special places.

Through the Iron Age and the Clearances to the contemporary events of community land ownership, a portrayal is given that challenges the perception that this is a remote place, isolated at the edge, but instead is crucial to our contemporary relationship with the land.

Frank Rennie is the Professor of Sustainable Rural Development at Lews Castle College of the University of the Highlands and Islands, where he works on human ecology, rural issues, and education. He travels widely and has published more than 30 books in both Gaelic and English.

The winning book, published by Acair Books, was announced during an online event hosted by Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre, in association with the Ullapool Book Festival. As the winner of the 2020 Highland Book Prize, Frank Rennie will be awarded £1000 prize money and a week’s writing retreat at Moniack Mhor Creative Writing Centre.

This year’s judges were novelist and poet Kevin MacNeil; poet Jen Hadfield; Senior Lecturer in Gaelic Language and Culture at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, Mark Wringe; and panel chair Alex Ogilvie of the Highland Society of London.

Longest standing judge Kevin MacNeil said: ‘The Changing Outer Hebrides: Galson and the Meaning of Place by Frank Rennie is a book that shows us the life-enhancing joys of understanding – truly understanding – what a particular place is and means.

The Changing Outer Hebrides by Frank Rennie

‘Rennie’s clear-eyed, well-researched writing shows us that we are not only who we are but where we are. Scotland has traditionally been marginalised, othered, overlooked and misunderstood; this book reverses those iniquities. I feel that if every part of Scotland had a book like this, Scotland herself would have a more sure-footed and compassionate sense of her culture, identity and connectedness to the world as it is, was and could be.’

Judge Jen Hadfield added: ‘Coming from a place of love and deep knowledge, The Changing Outer Hebrides represents a timely political gesture: Rennie quietly places his Galson, a small community in the Isle of Lewis, at the centre of the world.”

Jen Hadfield The first round of judging was completed in October 2020, by a panel of 145 volunteer readers who spent the summer immersed in Highland fiction, poetry, memoir, history, nature, crime, young adult and Gaelic titles.

If you would like to volunteer to read entries to the 2021 prize, and discover the latest literary talent connected to the Highlands, click HERE for further details.

The Highland Book Prize was established in 2017 to help celebrate the finest work that recognises the rich culture, heritage and landscape of the Highlands. The prize aims to showcase the literary talent of the region and to raise the profile of work created in or about the Highlands. Presented by the Highland Society of London, The Highland Book Prize is facilitated by Moniack Mhor Writers’ Centre in partnership with the Ullapool Book Festival.

The William Grant Foundation provides funding to encourage public engagement with the Highland Book

Visit for more details.