Donald S. Murray was raised in Ness in the Isle of Lewis. He spent his teenage years at The Nicolson Institute in Stornoway, before studying at the University of Glasgow in the 1980s. After receiving an MA (Joint Hons) in English and Scottish Literature, he went on to gain a Diploma in Education and a Secondary Teaching Qualification.
Since then, Donald has written a wide variety of books and published countless essays, columns, short stories, and poems in the likes of The Herald, The Guardian, and The Island Review. His writing, both of fiction and non-fiction, has received widespread critical acclaim and appeared on shortlists and longlists for numerous literary awards.
His debut novel, As the Women Lay Dreaming, won the Paul Torday Memorial Prize in 2020, and was shortlisted for the The Herald Scottish Culture Awards Outstanding Literature Award and the Authors’ Club Best First Novel Award in 2019.
In 2015, Sequamur, Donald’s first full-length Gaelic play, was performed throughout Scotland, including at the Edinburgh Festival, as well as in Belfast, London, and Ypres in Belgium. Described as ‘moving, powerful, with a message that resonates today,’ it examined the effect of the First World War on the The Nicolson Institute in Stornoway.
As a native Gaelic speaker, Donald’s voice can often be heard on BBC Radio nan Gaidheal, while on BBC Radio Four he has featured on Open Book with Mariella Frostrup. He has appeared on TV, on BBC Four’s Birds Britannia, a series looking at the different birds that live in the UK, and on The Last Seabird Summer, which examined the decline of seabirds in the North Atlantic.
Donald also regularly speaks at book festivals and conferences around the world, and has delivered talks at the University of Reykjavik in Iceland; the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland; the Nordic Centre in Tórshavn, Faroe Islands; the Blasket Centre in Dingle, Ireland; and the Pisa International Book Festival in Italy, among others. In 2020, he was elected as a committee member of the Society of Authors in Scotland, which protects the rights and interest of authors.
After 30 years as an English teacher, Donald became a full-time writer in 2012. He now lives and works in Shetland.