JULY: READ ALAN CAMPBELL MCLEAN
Another author who is so far off the radar he's almost invisible. I'm not even sure that he has a connection to July, but it seemed a good month to give a shout out for him. Biographical information is sparse about him. He was born in 1922 and died in 1989.
He is best known, where he is remembered at all, for his teen novels – most notably The Hill of the Red Fox. He wrote a series of what in the 50s-70s was known as childrens’ books (before ‘teen fiction’ had been invented as a concept) and he did the writer thing of visiting schools. Indeed, he was the first LIVE writer I met – a man down to earth enough to make me believe it was possible for real human beings to be writers! Though he spent most of his visit talking to us about the RAF as I recall!
And it is The Glasshouse, his uncompromising adult novel, based on his own experiences in a Military Prison, and a searing pacifist novel, which caused him plenty of trouble when he wrote it, certainly gives him the kudos of ‘unco’ writer. He was also a political activist (back in the days when that was more dangerous than cool). He wrote another adult novel, The Islander (1962) which is almost impossible to get hold of today but which is an excellent work. Strange and a shame that his agent doesn’t even mention its existence. Somehow I get the feeling there’s no ‘estate’ lobbying for his work to be reprinted. So I’ll give that shout out here! But if you can’t get hold of a second hand copy of The Islander (you might pay up to £50 for the privilege) then reading his childrens’ novels fills a gap and will not disappoint. Along with The Hill of the Red Fox, there is The Master of Morgana, The Year of the Stranger, Ribbon of Fire, Storm over Skye and A Sound of Trumpets. He also worked on several documentaries but I've been unable to find anything about them... unco and largely forgotten (seems to be a bit of a trend!)
To find out more about him be prepared to utilise your online research skills (or develop some) Here are a few pointers:
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p011672w (In Gaelic but with subtitles… the whole 30 minute programme not available)
and lobby his agent to reprint his books! https://amheath.com/authors/allan-campbell-mclean/
There's some of his books via Amazon and other online stores as some works have been republished from time to time over the years.