The extraordinary story of the UK’s most gruelling and spectacularly beautiful islands. Tom Steel’s acclaimed portrait of the St Kildan’s lives is now updated in this reissued edition.
Situated at the westernmost point of the United Kingdom, the spectacularly beautiful but utterly bleak island of St Kilda is familiar to virtually nobody. A lonely archipelago off the coast of Scotland, it is hard to believe that for over two thousand years, men and women lived here, cut off from the rest of the world.
With a population never exceeding two hundred in its history, the St Kildans were fiercely self-sufficient. Intensely religious people, they climbed cliffs from childhood and caught birds for food. Their sense of community was unparalleled and isolation enveloped their day-to-day existence.
With the onset of the First World War, things changed. For the very first time in St Kilda’s history, daily communication was established between the islanders and the mainland. Slowly but surely, this marked the beginning of the end of St Kilda and in August 1930, the island’s remaining 36 inhabitants were evacuated.
Updated to include the historic appointment of St Kilda as the United Kingdom’s only UNESCO Dual Heritage site, the ongoing search for information about the island and the threats that it continues to face, this is the moving story of a vanished community and how twentieth century civilization ultimately brought an entire way of life to its knees.
‘First-rate recreation of a vanished way of life’ Scotsman
‘Compulsive reading’ Guardian
About the author
Tom Steel was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He graduated from Emmanuel College, Cambridge, where he read History. In 1965 and joined the staff of Rediffusion Televisiom as a programme researcher. From 1968 he worked for Thames Television as producer and director on Today, This Week, People and Politics, as well as several documentaries. He has also worked as a freelance producer and director for Channel 4, ITV and the BBC. As well as The Life and Death of St Kilda, he also wrote Scotland’s Story. He died in 2007.