Hugh MacDiarmid was one of the most important literary figures of twentieth-century Scotland and is now recognised as the principal force of the Scottish Literary Renaissance. Born in Langholm as Christopher Murray Grieve, MacDiarmid worked as a journalist before adopting his literary name. He began to write poetry in the 1920s, publishing his first collection of poems ‘Sangshaw’ in 1925. His major work, ‘A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle’ appeared the following year. MacDiarmid’s vast output of poetry and prose was often controversial, and his strong political beliefs led him to co-found the National Party of Scotland, today’s SNP. Despite his reputation, MacDiarmid was never financially successful and his last twenty-seven years were spent in a modest cottage near Biggar.