Elspeth Baillie’s glorious Barbadian stage career is not to be. As a young Scottish actress stranded on a remote plantation, she is a step above the Scottish sugar slaves, but just as dependent on those with power, namely colonialist men. Chris Dolan’s rich and engrossing literary novel charts the turbulent lives, loves and losses of Elspeth and her fellow homesick Scots, illuminating a fascinating era of history and bringing to life the ancestors of today’s ‘Redlegs’, or poor whites, of the Caribbean.

About the author

Chris Dolan is an award-winning novelist, poet and playwright. He has written regularly for stage, page, screen and radio.

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Why We Like It

  • A contemporary classic set in 19th-century colonial Barbados
  • Unique insight into the history of Caribbean ‘Redlegs’ or poor whites
  • Love, loss and secrets run through this beautifully written tale

“An engrossing and compelling novel... lingering richly in the memory” – Scotsman

“A powerful, disturbing tale, written with scrupulous care both for words and their hidden meanings” – Independent

The Pigeonhole is serialising Redlegs in partnership with Vagabond Voices. Click here for more information about Vagabond’s edition of the book.

“[Redlegs is] an engrossing and compelling novel. The picture of island life is vivid, the characterisation of the principal personages convincing, the elaboration of the narrative moving. As in many really good novels, there are small scenes which stick in the memory” – Scotsman

“A powerful, disturbing tale, written with scrupulous care both for words and their hidden meanings” – Independent

“A compelling tale” – The Skinny 

“A gripping piece of work... Beautiful, rich prose that evokes a place, a sense of time and the beat of Elspeth’s (the protagonist’s) heart” – Sunday Herald

Chris Dolan writes for page, stage and screen. An early short story won the Macallan/Scotland on Sunday Competition, and Poor Angels and Other Stories was shortlisted for the Saltire Society Scottish First Book of the Year Award in 1995. A second collection of stories, Hour After Hour, was published in 2008. Other stories have appeared in various magazines and anthologies and have been broadcast on BBC Radio. His first novel, Ascension Day, won the McKitterick Prize. His non-fiction books include An Anarchist’s Story: The Life of Ethel Macdonald and John Lennon: The Original Beatle. He is also author of the novels Potters Field and Aliyyah, published by Vagabond Voices.


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