Sian Mackay Author

Sian Mackay spent several years in Egypt and the U.S.A. before returning to her native Scotland to gain a degree in arts and social sciences (BA.Hons.). She worked as a freelance journalist for newspapers including The Glasgow Herald and Times Educational Supplement and founded Moubray House Press in Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Subsequently, she wrote literary journalism, narrative non-fiction and fiction in several published books, and divided her time between Scotland and Spain. In the 1990s she was working as a journalist in Palma de Mallorca with a special interest in notable expatriates who visited or lived on the island, including Chopin, Archduke Louis Salvador and Robert Graves. After she was offered an intriguing blue file containing letters and photographs, discovered at an abandoned villa in Mallorca, she set off on the eight-year-long exploration that led to her biography Von Ripper’s Odyssey (Thistle Publishing 2016. Sancho Press 2017). 

Sian Mackay is represented by literary agent Andrew Lownie at the Lownie Agency, London. +44 020 7222 7574

Von Ripper’s Odyssey: War, Resistance, Art and Love is available to order at good bookshops and on Amazon: ISBN 0952883724


In recent years I have been the recipient of two awards from Creative Scotland and a six-week residency at Yaddo, USA.  I live and work in Edinburgh.

Agent link:

Amazon author link:

From Scotland to Spain . . . and back again

I have been a journalist, publisher and author of books, essays and short stories in my journey as a wordsmith. In the early 1980s I founded Moubray House Press in Edinburgh’s Royal Mile to publish pamphlets and books of Scottish interest. My first authored book under my given name, Sheila Mackay, was The Forth Bridge: A Picture History and other non-fiction books followed: Lindisfarne Landscapes, Behind the Façade, Early Scottish Gardens and Mountain Music: Mallorca, which were published by various houses including Edinburgh University Press, St Andrew Press and Birlinn.

When I went to live on the Spanish island of Mallorca in the 1990s, I was interested in writing fiction, and after two short stories were published – one a short-listed ‘long short story’ – I felt encouraged to write my first novel Rafael’s Wings (2006). Fiction, I thought, needed a different author name and I chose Sian Mackay which has been my ‘known’ name ever since.

After thirteen years I returned to Scotland as Sian Mackay with two books on my mind. I worked on those books in parallel during the next decade. The first was a fictive biography about the fascinating year Robert Louis Stevenson lived in the English resort of Bournemouth and wrote Strange Case of Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde (1885). The House on the Chine: Robert Louis Stevenson at Skerryvore was published by Sancho Press in 2013 and re-published by Thistle Publishing, London, the following year.

The second book is the biography, Von Ripper’s Odyssey: War, Resistance, Art and Love, which was published by Thistle Publishing in August 2016 and by Sancho Press in 2017. Its subject is Rudolph von Ripper, the extraordinary Austrian aristocrat who lived through the great and tragic epochs of the first half of the twentieth century as a resistance fighter, war artist and CIA agent. After the second world war he lived on the Spanish island of Mallorca and died there in 1960.

I settled back in Edinburgh, my birthplace in 2015.

Sian Mackay’s published work includes:


The House on the Chine: Robert Louis Stevenson at Skerryvore

Rafael’s Wings

The Verdict of the Double-Six

NON-FICTION (as Sheila Mackay)

Early Scottish Gardens: A Writer’s Odyssey

Behind the Façade: Four Centuries of Scottish Interiors

Mountain Music: Mallorca

Lindisfarne Landscapes

The Forth Bridge: A Picture History

Praise for Sian Mackay’s published work:

‘Blends a biographer’s quest for historical truth with a novelist’s insight and imagination to create a work of striking originality.’ Jim Crumley, author of The Great Wood

‘A terrific read, full of haunting images and beautifully paced.’ Elspeth Barker

‘The lyrical, lucid text takes the reader on a wonderfully vivid journey.’ Glasgow Herald

‘She spins a web of words . . .’ The Scotsman.

‘Few people know Mallorca as well as Sian Mackay.’ Mallorca: The Rough Guide.

A vivid evocation . . . packed with treasures of description.’ Mallorca Daily Bulletin

Edinburgh my birthplace 'City of Literature'

‘City of Literature’

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