Kathleen Jamie

Kathleen Jamie is a poet and essayist. Raised in Currie, near Edinburgh, she studied philosophy at Edinburgh University, publishing her first poems as an undergraduate. Her 1995 collection The Queen of Sheba won the Somerset Maugham Award and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and was shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize and the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize; The Tree House (2002) also won the Forward Poetry Prize and the Scottish Book of the Year Award; The Overhaul, brought out in 2012, won the Costa Poetry Award. In 2016 Kathleen won both the Saltire Poetry Book of the Year and the overall Saltire Book of the Year for her collection The Bonniest Companie.

In recent years she has turned her pen to essays to much acclaim, with her collection Sightlines winning the John Burroughs Medal and the Orion Book Award in the USA. Kathleen is currently Professor of Poetry at Stirling University. One of her poems is inscribed in on the national monument at Bannockburn.

Kathleen was appointed Scotland’s Makar, or National Poet for Scotland, in August 2021 for a three-year term. For all enquiries relating to Kathleen’s role as Makar, email

Kathleen’s website:

Kathleen Jamie is represented at Jenny Brown Associates by Jenny. For all enquiries contact

Books by Kathleen


Sort Of Books, June 2024

Cairn: a marker on open land, a memorial, a viewpoint shared by strangers.

As she reached her 60th year, the acclaimed author and poet Kathleen Jamie turned to new forms of writing: personal notes, prose poems, micro-essays, fragments. Arranged here, like the stones of a wayside cairn, they mark changes to an inner and outer landscape. The virtuosity of these short pieces is both subtle and deceptive. Jamie’s intent noticing of the natural world is suffused with an awareness of all we endanger. She considers the future her children face, while recalling her own childhood, and notes a lost innocence in the way we respond to the dramas of nature. With care and insight she records a moment in life and within the cascading crises of our times. Cairn resonates with a beauty and wisdom that only an artist of Jamie’s calibre could achieve.

The Golden Treasury of Scottish Verse

Canongate, September 2021

The Golden Treasury of Scottish Verse is a timeless collection of Scottish poetry. It contains over three hundred poems ranging from the early medieval period to the twenty-first century, and paints a full-colour portrait of Scotland’s poetic heritage and culture.

Edited and introduced by award-winning poets Kathleen Jamie, Don Paterson and Peter Mackay, and including poems by Robert Burns, Carol Ann Duffy, Sorley Maclean, Violet Jacob, William Dunbar, Meg Bateman, George Mackay Brown, Màiri Mhòr nan Òran, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jackie Kay, Liz Lochhead, and many more, The Golden Treasury of Scottish Verse is a joyous celebration of Scotland’s literary past, present and future.


Sort Of Books, September 2019

In this remarkable blend of memoir, cultural history, and travelogue, poet and author Kathleen Jamie touches points on a timeline spanning millennia, and considers what surfaces and what reconnects us to our past. From the thawing tundra linking a Yup’ik village in Alaska to its hunter-gatherer past to the shifting sand dunes revealing the impressively preserved homes of neolithic farmers in Scotland, Jamie explores how the changing natural world can alter our sense of time. Most movingly, she considers, as her father dies and her children leave home, the surfacing of an older, less tethered sense of herself. In precise, luminous prose, Surfacing offers a profound sense of time passing and an antidote to all that is instant, ephemeral, unrooted.

Praise for Surfacing

“[Kathleen Jamie’s] essays guide you softly along coastlines of varying continents, exploring caves, and pondering ice ages until the narrator stumbles over — not a rock on the trail, but mortality, maybe the earth’s, maybe our own, pointing to new paths forward through the forest.” —The New York Times Book Review.

“In a lyrical, beautifully rendered collection of essays, poet Jamie (Sightlines) meditates on the natural world, lost cultures, and the passage of time….Jamie’s observations about time and the interconnectedness of human lives, past and present, are insightful, and her language elegant. The result is a stirring collection for poetry and prose readers alike.” —Publishers Weekly

Selected Poems

Picador, November 2019

One of the UK’s foremost poets, best known for her writing on nature, landscape, and place, this collection shows the full and remarkably diverse range of her work – and why many regard her work as crucially relevant to this troubled age.

The Bonniest Companie

Picador, October 2015

In her extraordinary new collection, Kathleen Jamie examines her native Scotland – a country at once wild and contained, rural and urban – and her place within it. In the author’s own words : ‘2014 was a year of tremendous energy in my native Scotland, and knowing I wanted to embrace that energy and participate in my own way, I resolved to write a poem a week, and follow the cycle of the year.’ The poems also venture into childhood and family memory – and look to ahead to the future. The Bonniest Company is visionary response to a year shaped and charged by both local and global forces, and will stand as a remarkable document of our times.

Winner of Saltire Scottish Book of the Year 2016


Sort Of Books, April 2012
North America: The Experiment

In this greatly anticipated sequel to Findings, prize-winning poet and renowned nature writer Kathleen Jamie takes a fresh look at her native Scottish landscapes, before sailing north into iceberg-strewn seas. Her gaze swoops vertiginously too; from a countryside of cells beneath a hospital microscope, to killer whales rounding a headland, to the constellations of satellites that belie our sense of the remote.

Written with her hallmark precision and delicacy, and marked by moments in her own life, Sightlines offers a rare invitation to pause and to pay heed to our surroundings.

Praise for Sightlines

A sorceress of the essay form. Never exotic, down to earth, she renders the indefinable to the reader’s ear. Hold her tangible words and they’ll take you places
John Berger

At which point I put the book down again and thought: ‘I wonder if I would actually kill to be able to write, or think, like that.’ It’s like this pretty much all the way through
Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian

Kathleen Jamie, the Scottish poet, has written a book that transcends the definition of nature study… Sightlines is a work of intense purity and quiet genius and we’re lucky to have it
The Sunday Telegraph

Exquisite. . . There is such a precision, of both thinking and seeing, displayed in these works that you would have to be a very obtuse kind of reader not to realise that Jamie is a poet
The Scotsman

The dance of Jamie’s words enacts the mind in motion as it moves between the shifting, shimmering processes of nature and art
The Guardian

Jamie’s prose is exquisite, yet never indulgent. . . . This is a book that will stay with you, as its sights and sounds have stayed with its writer. [A] work of intense purity and quiet genius, and we’re lucky to have it
The Sunday Telegraph

A haunting new collection from one of our finest nature writers . . . . Immensely beguiling. There are piquant descriptions that stop you in your tracks . . . . but the real power of the writing derives from the steady increment of detail and the honesty of her responses to the natural world
The Sunday Times

Winner of the John Burroughs Medal
Winner of the Orion Book Award