Ashdown Forest, Maresfield, Uckfield TN22 3LN, UK
Musselburgh Racecourse, Linkfield Rd, Musselburgh EH21 7RE, UK
Fred Urquhart (12 July 1912 – 2 December 1995) was a Scottish short story writer.
Frederick Burrows Urquhart was born in Edinburgh in 1912. His father was chauffeur to the Earl of Breadalbane at Taymouth Castle. He spent much of his childhood in Fife, Perthshire and Wigtownshire. He attended Stranraer High School and Broughton Secondary School.
On leaving school at 15 he worked in a bookshop. He was a pacifist and conscientious objector and worked on the land during the Second World War, first at Laurencekirk in the Mearns and later at Woburn Abbey. Here he met George Orwell and the Scottish painters Robert Colquhoun and Robert MacBryde.
From 1947 he worked as a reader for a London literary agency, and from 1951 to 1954 he read scripts for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He was a reader for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and London "scout" for Walt Disney. He was a reader for Hamish Hamilton, from 1951 to 1974 for Cassell, and from 1967 to 1971 for J. M. Dent, and others. He also edited a number of books.
He also reviewed books extensively for many well known periodicals.
Many of his stories revolved around rural life, set in the (fictional) town of Auchencairn. Amongst his work the best regarded is Jezebel's Dust (1951). One obituarist said that, "His skill was to show characters in everyday, conversational action" and, writing in the Manchester Evening News in November 1944, George Orwell praised his "remarkable gift for constructing neat stories with convincing dialogue."
Many of his stories were read on the radio, and Palace of Green Days was a Book at Bedtime in 1985.
He had a particular love of horses and edited The Book of Horses (1981).
He won the Tom Gallon Trust Award for "The Ploughing Match" in 1951 and received Arts Council grants in 1966, 1975 and 1978.
He moved to Ashdown Forest in East Sussex in 1958 with his companion, the dancer Peter Wyndham Allen, but when Wyndham Allen died in 1990 Urquhart moved back to Scotland. He was a friend of Rhys Davies, who lived with him after the Second World War, and of Norah Hoult.
Urquhart died in Musselburgh at the age of 83.
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