Callum Macdonald

We take great pleasure in congratulating Callum Macdonald founder of Macdonald Printers and Publishers (Edinburgh) Ltd, who now lives in (semi) retirement at Innerleithen, Peeblesshire on the occasion of an exhibition of his achievements as a Scottish literary publisher currently being staged within the National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh.

Born on the island of Bernera, off the west coast of Lewis, Callum was educated at the Nicolson Institute, Stornoway and the University of Edinburgh where he studied history. During World War II he served in the RAF, completing two tours of flying operations, being based at Reykjavik and Gibraltar, and was mentioned in dispatches in the New Year’s Honours List of 1945.

His publishing career began, after the war, in a stationer’s shop in Marchmont Road, Edinburgh, when he acquired a small hand-press and began printing, mainly commercial work, until he took over Lines Review from its second issue in 1953. As a printer, he was entirely self-taught. Although a native Gaelic speaker he has always done his utmost to promote Scots and English as well as Gaelic literature. The present Editor of Lines Review says of him:

“Callum Macdonald belongs to the great tradition of Scottish literary publishers, men like Archibald Constable or William Blackwood who in their time encouraged a generation of Scottish writers.

“Certainly, with his efforts, the work of poets like Sydney Goodsir Smith, Robert Garioch, Sorley Maclean and many others would not have seen the light of day…”

Other writers whose work Callum has published have included Tom Scott, J.K. Annand, R. Crombie Sounders, Magnus Magnusson, Alan Bold and Derek Thomson. He published in 1978, Clan Donald, a definitive history of the Clan, by the late Donald J. Macdonald of Castleton and several of the early numbers of Clan Donald Magazine.

The exhibition was formally opened by Dr. Norman MacCaig, the Scottish poet at a well attended reception in the Library on Friday 25th February.

The assistant keeper in the department of manuscripts at the National Library, who prepared the exhibition and the catalogue says: “We all celebrate his achievements and salute his unique services to Scottish literature.” It is fitting that his clansfolk should do likewise.

Callum Macdonald is a life member of the Clan Donald Society of Edinburgh.