Agnes Owens

‘Agnes Owens’ hallmarks have been a frank irony, a deadpan gothic quality and a down-to-earth insistence on the surreality of most people’s normality’ – Ali Smith ‘Agnes Owens was the most unfairly neglected of all Scottish authors. I don’t know why’ – Alasdair Gray ‘What if Agnes had been “granted” a proper chance to write when she was fighting to rear her family? When she saw the squeak of a chance she grabbed it and produced those great stories we know. How much more could it have been?’ – James Kelman Agnes Owens, 1926–13 October 2014, married twice and raised seven children, and worked as a cleaner, typist and factory worker. Her books include People Like That and For the Love of Willie, which was shortlisted for the 1998 Stakis Prize. Her short stories also appeared alongside those of her friends and fellow authors James Kelman and Alasdair Gray in Lean Tales. Bad Attitudes, which consists of two novellas (‘Bad Attitudes’ and ‘Jen’s Party’), was longlisted for the 2003 Saltire Literary Awards. ‘It’s what I’ve been striving for: a thick book’: those were Agnes Owens’ words after Polygon published Agnes Owens: The Complete Short Stories in 2008, all 384 pages of it. We were proud and delighted to have published the collection (with its typically deadpan epigraph ‘To all those who are interested’), along with The Complete Novellas the following year. From her first story, ‘Arabella’, a portrait of a modern witch written in 1978, at the age of fifty-two, Agnes has entertained and unsettled a devoted audience. Her wicked humour, compassionate heart and ability to tell a bloody good story will be sorely missed. She was a uniquely talented writer and an inspirational woman.