The members of the editorial team of Scottish Review of Books are greatly saddened to share the news of the death of Stephanie Wolfe Murray, founder of Canongate Publishing. Stephanie started Canongate with her husband Gus Wolfe Murray, Robert Sure and Charles Wild in 1973 and over the next nineteen years published works of enormous importance which continue to influence and delight us today—including Alasdair Gray’s Lanark, Alan Spence’s The Magic Flute, Andrew Greig’s Electric Brae, Jimmy Boyle’s redemptive autobiography A Sense of Freedom, Mairi Hedderwick’s An Eye on the Hebrides, the fiction of Robin Jenkins, the poetry and travel writing of Tom Pow, the early fiction of Ron Butlin, the poetry and translations of Alastair Reid, and the early folktales and short stories of Alexander McCall Smith… the list is long and distinguished and we can only touch on it here.
Stephanie was a strong influence on Scottish publishing in the 1970s, 80s and early 90s, the doyenne of her time. She started the children’s paperback series, The Kelpies (which Stephanie herself described as ‘a sort of Scottish Puffin’): books that were to put Scottish writing back into the classroom—republishing works that had long since vanished and encouraging new writing for children through the Kelpie Prize run jointly with the BBC. She made important Scottish works of fiction widely available through the Canongate Classics series sharing knowledge and list building with academics and librarians from across the land. Those of us who had the good fortune to work with her benefitted greatly from her energy and enthusiasm, dedication and humanity, friendship and good cheer. Those who did not know her but who share still her enthusiasm for Scottish writing will see her influence on their bookshelves. Her passion for publishing was legendary, her compassion for her fellow man boundless—her friendship something I for one will never forget.
Stephanie Wolfe Murray died on Saturday 24th June 2017.