Naomi Mitchison

(born November 1897 - died January 1999) - Kintyre

Naomi Mitchison

Born Naomi Margaret Haldane in 1897 in Edinburgh, Naomi Mitchison was a Scottish novelist and poet who wrote over 90 books in a wide range of genres, from historical, children's and science fiction. Her father, John Scott Haldane, was a physiologist. She was educated at the Dragon School, Oxford, as well as at home by a governess. She started a science degree at Oxford University, but suspended her studies to become a VAD nurse during WWI. After catching scarlet fever, she returned to her studies.

Mitchison married barrister Gilbert Richard Mitchison in 1916, who later became an MP and then Lord. Together they had seven children, and lived in Carradale House on the Mull of Kintyre from 1939. Politically left wing, she stood as a Labour Party candidate in 1935, but was unsuccessful. She was a member of the Argyll County Council and later the Highland and Island Advisory Council. She was also a feminist, and wrote widely on issues of sex, birth control and rape.

She was a prolific writer, and her first novel was The Conquered, was published in 1923. Her most successful books include The Corn King and the Spring Queen (1931), Early in Orcadia (1987) and the controversial novel in We Have Been Warned, which was subject to censorship (1935). Many of her earlier novels were set in the classical era, and she also wrote historical Aurthurian fantasies such as To the Chapel Perilous (1955). She wrote a three-volume autobiography between 1973 and 1985. Naomi Mitchison travelled widely, and wrote about her travels and set some novels in Africa.

As a journalist, she wrote for newspapers and magazines such as The New Statesman and The Guardian.

In 1981 she was appointed a CBE. She never took the title Lady, despite being married to a life peer. Naomi Mitchison died in 1999, aged 101, at her house in Carradale. A biography of her, The Nine Lives of Naomi Mitchison, was written by Jenni Calder.

  • Cover scan of Anna Comnena
    Anna Comnena
    Naomi Mitchison - Paperback - Kennedy & Boyd
    Anna Comnena was an educated princess in 11th-century Constantinople, the daughter of the Emperor Alexius. She was expected to succeed him, & raised as heir, but her hopes were dashed by the birth of a brother. Naomi Mitchison combines her story with that of her father, & the whole civilisation of the Eastern Empire.
  • Cover scan of Behold Your King
    Behold Your King
    Naomi Mitchison - Paperback - Kennedy & Boyd
    In this unusual and accomplished novel, Naomi Mitchison retells in realistic terms and colloquial dialogue the story of the passion and death of Jesus, hour by hour, as it unfolds over the 24 hours of Good Friday.
  • Cover scan of Beyond This Limit
    Beyond This Limit: Selected Shorter Fiction
    Naomi Mitchison - Paperback - Kennedy & Boyd
    Naomi Mitchison published her first novel in 1923, and in more than 70 succeeding books she produced an extraordinary output, especially in novels and short stories. This selection of her shorter fiction illustrates her range and achievement over more than 50 years.
  • Cover scan of The Big House
    The Big House
    Naomi Mitchison - Paperback - Kennedy & Boyd
    All the children hate Su because she is from the Big House. All that is except Winkie, the fisherman's son, and together he and Su become involved in a dangerous mission to rescue a magic piper from the clutches of an evil fairy prince.
  • Cover scan of Cleopatra's People
    Cleopatra's People
    Naomi Mitchison - Paperback - Kennedy & Boyd
    Eschewing Plutarch and Shakespeare's tale of Mark Antony's fatal romance, Naomi Mitchison's 'Cleopatra's People' starts with the next generation, with the children of the Queen and of Charmian, one of her 'mates'. The impact of Cleopatra's life and personality is reflected through them, and their efforts to follow in her wake.
  • Cover scan of Cloud Cuckoo Land
    Cloud Cuckoo Land
    Naomi Mitchison - Paperback - Kennedy & Boyd
    Ancient Greek history and politics fascinated Naomi Mitchison, and in particular the long antagonism or rivalry of Athens and Sparta. In this, her second novel, she investigates the two city states through Alxenor, a young man from the tiny island of Poieessa, which changes hands along with the balance of power.
  • Cover scan of The Conquered
    The Conquered
    Naomi Mitchison - Paperback - Kennedy & Boyd
    Naomi Mitchison's first novel, 'The Conquered' follows Julius Caesar's bloody and gradual conquest of Gaul. Written just five years after the end of the First World War, Mitchison draws parallels between the struggles between the Romans and the Gauls and the more contemporary conflict between the Irish and the British Empire.
  • Cover scan of Essays And Journalism
    Essays And Journalism
    Naomi Mitchison - Paperback - Kennedy & Boyd
    Volume two of Naomi Mitchison's 'Essays and Journalism' is devoted to the West Highland village of Carradale, to which she moved in the late 1930s. She writes about many aspects of Carradale: her farm, the local fishing industry, the big garden which was particularly dear to her heart, and 'the village and the Big House'.
  • Cover scan of Lobsters On The Agenda
    Lobsters On The Agenda
    Naomi Mitchison - Paperback - House of Lochar
    A series of meetings, both formal and informal, are the settings in which the local people of a West Highland village try to resolve their differences over public issues. Not least is the question of who stole the lobsters.
  • Cover scan of Memoirs Of A Spacewoman
    Memoirs Of A Spacewoman
    Naomi Mitchison - Paperback - Kennedy & Boyd
    Set in a utopian future, 'Memoirs of a Spacewoman' stars Mary - our central character - as she recalls her career as a communications specialist on various space expeditions. The novel, structured around Mary's different voyages, also centres on her sexual desires and her pregnancies.
  • Cover scan of Naomi Mitchison's Early In Orcadia, The Big House And Travel Light
    Naomi Mitchison's Early In Orcadia, The Big House And Travel Light
    Moira Burgess - Paperback - Association for Scottish Literary Studies
    Born in Edinburgh in 1897, Naomi Haldane - later Mitchison - would go on to become one of Scotland's most important literary voices of the 20th century. This book looks at three of her most significant works, discussing topics such as historical context, characterisation and use of language.
  • Cover scan of Small Talk
    Small Talk: Memories Of An Edwardian Childhood
    Naomi Mitchison - Paperback - Kennedy & Boyd
    This text presents a vivid picture of the childhood years of Naomi Mitchison. A life in Oxford before the First World War, a child's-eye view of the family, friends, servants, pets - and holidays in Scotland and Cornwall.
  • Cover scan of Vienna Diary 1934
    Vienna Diary 1934
    Naomi Mitchison - Paperback - Kennedy & Boyd
    On February 24th, 1934, shortly after the civil war in Austria and the defeat of the Socialists, Naomi Mitchison left England on a visit to Vienna in order to do what she could to relieve the terrible distress of the defeated. In this day-by-day diary, she tells us what she saw, did and felt.
  • Cover scan of When We Become Men
    When We Become Men
    Naomi Mitchison - Paperback - Kennedy & Boyd
    'When We Become Men' deals with the contemporary fight for equality across southern Africa and the struggle against apartheid. Naomi Mitchison provides a vivid and clear account of a troubled people in transition, which helps the reader to understand and empathise with the birth-pangs of a new, post-imperial Africa.



  • The Conquered - 1923
  • Cloud Cuckoo Land - 1925
  • The Laburnum Branch - 1926
  • The Fairy who Couldn't Tell a Lie - 1927
  • Anna Comnena - 1928
  • Black Sparta - 1928
  • Nix-Nought-Nothing - 1928
  • The Hostages - 1930
  • The Corn King and the Spring Queen - 1931
  • Boys and Girls and Gods - 1931
  • The Prince of Freedom - 1931
  • Powers of Light - 1932
  • The Delicate Fire - 1933
  • We Have Been Warned - 1935
  • An End and a Beginning - 1937
  • The Blood of the Martyrs - 1939
  • The Bull Calves - 1947
  • The Big House - 1950
  • Travel Light - 1952
  • Lobsters on the Agenda - 1952
  • Graeme and the Dragon - 1954
  • The Land the Ravens Found - 1955
  • To the Chapel Perilous - 1955
  • Little Boxes - 1956
  • Behold your King - 1957
  • The Young Alexander the Great - 1960
  • Memoirs of a Spacewoman - 1962
  • Ketse and the Chief - 1965
  • Friends and Enemies - 1966
  • Big Surprise - 1967
  • Family at Ditlabeng - 1969
  • Don't Look Back - 1969
  • Far Harbour - 1969
  • Sun and Moon - 1970
  • Cleopatra's People - 1972
  • Sunrise Tomorrow: A Story of Botswana - 1973
  • A Life for Africa: The Story of Bram Fischer - 1973
  • Danish Teapot - 1973
  • Oil for the Highlands? - 1974
  • Solution Three - 1975 (with Susan Merrill Squier)
  • All Change Here - 1975
  • Snake! - 1976
  • Two Magicians - 1979 (with Dick Mitchison)
  • The Vegetable War - 1980
  • Mucking Around - 1981
  • Not by Bread Alone - 1983
  • Early in Orcadia - 1987
  • Images of Africa - 1987
  • As It Was - 1988
  • The Oath-takers - 1991
  • Sea-green Ribbons - 1991
  • The Dark Twin - 1998 - (with Marion Campbell)


  • Vienna Diary - 1934
  • Return to the Fairy Hill - 1966
  • African Heroes - 1968
  • The Moral Basis of Politics - 1971
  • The Africans: From the Earliest Times to the Present - 1971
  • Small Talk - 1973
  • Margaret Cole, 1893-1980 - 1982
  • Among You Taking Notes... - 1985
  • Rising Public Voice: Women in Politics Worldwide - 1995