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George Douglas Brown (1869-1902) - Novelist

He was born on 26th January 1869 in Ochiltree, Ayrshire, the illegitimate son of a farmer. He was educated at the village school and between 1884 and 1887 at Ayr Academy, where he was greatly influenced and encouraged by its rector William Maybin. In 1887 he matriculated at the University of Glasgow and in 1891 he won a Snell Exhibition which took him to Balliol College, Oxford, where he remained until 1895. His mother's death that year cut off many of his links with Ayrshire and he settled in London, earning a living from tutoring and literary journalism. Brown's first book, a boy's adventure novel set in the Afridi War, Love and Sword (1899), was published under his pseudonym 'Kennedy King', the name which he used for most of his lighter journalism. Through his friendship with David Meldrum, Blackwood's literary adviser, he contributed a telling article on Robert Burns to the August 1896 issue of Blackwood's Magazine, and a glossary to Blackwood's republication of the novels of John Galt, a writer whom Brown particularly admired. In 1900 he began work on the novel for which he is best known, The House With The Green Shutters, published in 1901 under his pseudonym 'George Douglas'. Written in opposition to the kailyard school of rural sentimentality. The House with the Green Shutters traces the fall of John Gourlay, a self-made man with vaulting ambitions, in the claustrophobic small town of Barbie. Much of the novel came from Brown's childhood memories of village life and in the powerful portrayal of John Gourlay there is evidence of Brown's hatred of his illegitimate relationship to his own father, an overbearing Ayrshire farmer. Brown intended to follow up his success with two novels, The Incompatibles and The Novelist, both of which existed in note form and are loosely autobiographical, but he
died of pneumonia on 28th August 1902 after returning to London from a visit to Ayrshire. His early death removed from Scottish literature one of its richest talents.

Works: as Kennedy King, Love and a Sword (1899); as George Douglas, The House with the Green Shutters (1901).

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