Brown worked as a pithead boy until a former teacher generously paid for him to attend Ayr Academy. He went on to study at the University of Glasgow followed by Balliol College, Oxford. In 1895 he moved to London to try and establish himself as a writer – writing poetry, reviews and short stories. In 1901 his novel, ‘The House with the Green Shutters’, was published under the pseudonym George Douglas. This hugely influential book countered the sentimental Victorian “kailyard” school of Scottish fiction with its harsh depiction of village life. Brown’s reputation rests on this novel as he died the following year, aged just thirty-three.