George Campbell Hay

George Campbell Hay

George Campbell Hay (1915-1984) was a Scottish poet and translator, who wrote in Scottish Gaelic, Lowland Scots and English. He used the patronymic Deòrsa Mac Iain Dheòrsa. He also wrote poetry in French, Italian and Norwegian, and translated poetry from many languages into Gaelic.


He was born in Elderslie, Renfrewshire, and brought up in Tarbert, Kintyre and Argyll. He was educated at Fettes College (which he despised) and the University of Oxford. He served in the British Army in North Africa during World War II, a region which featured in much of his work and then lived for a long period in Edinburgh.

He was a Scottish nationalist. His life was difficult, with long periods of hard living.

He was the son of the novelist John MacDougall Hay (1880-1919).


He was a multilingual poet, but his work outside Gaelic was little published in his lifetime. His Collected Poems and Songs appeared in 2000, edited by Michel Byrne, and has attracted new attention to his work.

He was a frequent contributor to Gairm magazine, and other Gaelic periodicals, and his best work appeared in that language. Because of the general ignorance of Gaelic amongst much of Scotland's literati and academia, and the lack of translations, this body of work has been little examined until recently. Mochtar is Dughall, an epic about a Highland soldier, and a North African Arab in World War II is commonly considered to be his greatest work.

He was strongly influenced by Hugh MacDiarmid, and the Scottish Renaissance.

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