Island Years, Island Farm by Frank Fraser Darling

Life and farming on the Summer Isles: “..a remarkable portrait of a family adapting to isolation and the extremes of nature, in a land shaped by an unceasing and intimate relationship with its people.” Iain Stewart

Author: Frank Fraser Darling, introduced by Iain Stewart

Published May 2011


SKU: ISLANDYEAR Categories: , Tags: ,


57 in stock (can be backordered)

Unhappily land-locked in his early adult life, Frank Fraser Darling’s fortunes changed when he began visiting Scotland’s west coast in the 1930s. Surviving treacherous boat journeys, a broken leg, and hell-bent storms, he made temporary homes with his family on some of the remotest Hebridean islands so he could study the habits of grey seals and seabirds.

The family finally settled on an abandoned croft in the Summer Isles, on Tanera Mòr, and started farming the barren land. They repaired a ruined herring fishery and its stone quay. They fertilised the ground with seaweed, cut peat for the fires, planted a garden behind sheltered walls. Slowly, they brought life back to the island.


Introduced by Iain Stewart
Cover photograph by F. Fraser Darling

216 x 156mm sewn paperback with flaps
256 pages with many photographs by the author
ISBN 978 1 908213 01 3

Additional information

Weight350 g
Dimensions14 × 156 × 216 mm


  1. the Guardian

    Ian Jack, columnist for the Guardian and the former-editor the Independent on Sunday and Granta, journeyed to Tanera Mòr recently, to discover the island where Frank Fraser Darling lived with his family in the ruins of the 18th-century herring factory.

    ‘Fraser Darling was a practical kind of romantic’, he writes in the Financial Times. Reading Island Years, Island Farm on Tanera Mòr, Ian Jack found it ‘a moving experience: our immediate surroundings were intimately described and little had changed. The soil in the back garden was still as black . . . Down below, in the valley that cuts the island in two, the field that Fraser Darling reclaimed (a picture in his book shows it lined proudly with corn stooks) had returned to reeds and bog.’

    Maybe next year we’ll finally get ourselves to the Summer Isles!

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