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Grant, James Shaw, 1910-1999, journalist, writer, crofting advocate

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Grant, James Shaw, 1910-1999, journalist, writer, crofting advocate

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James Shaw Grant was born in Stornoway in May 1910. He was a major influence on life in the Highlands and Islands in the last century.

He graduated from Glasgow University in 1931 with distinctions in English, mathematics, history and political economy. His father had established the Stornoway Gazette during time in Lewis as a reporter for the Highland News and James took over from his father as editor in 1932. He was editor for 31 years until he had to vacate the position when he became Chairman of the Crofters Commission. His strong sense of community came across during the difficult times for the Island.

In 1943 during his time with the Crofters Commission, he proposed and pressed for a change from crofting to tenancy and he was appointed Secretary of the Lewis Association playing a major part in collecting and writing reports on the social and economic problems of the Island.

He was a supporter of the Scottish Community Drama Association for which he wrote many plays throughout his 50 year association with them. He was a member of the Highlands and Islands Advisory panel and also a director at Grampian TV. In 1956, he broadcast an audio tour of Stornoway called A Gaelic Capital on BBC Scotland.

He was involved with many groups including Eden Court, Pitlochry Festival Theatre, H.I.B.D and the Harris Tweed Association of which he was Chairman from 1972-1984. He was nicknamed “The Quango King” by the West Highland Free Press.

He was a direct descendant of Roderick Morrison, the Blind Harper who was brought from Edinburgh by the Chief of the Macleod’s to be Bard at Dunvegan.

He wrote many books including Highland Villages, The Gaelic Vikings, The Enchanted Island and A Shilling for your Scowl. He received an OBE in 1956, a CBE in 1968, Royal LLD (Aberdeen) in 1979 and was made a fellow of the Royal Agricultural Society in 1973 and of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1982. James Shaw Grant died aged 89 in July 1999.


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