The Luath Story



Luath Press takes its name from Robert Burns, whose little collie Luath (Gael., swift or nimble) tripped up Jean Armour at a wedding and gave him the chance to speak to the woman who was to be his wife and the abiding love of his life. Burns called one of The Twa Dogs Luath after Cuchullin's hunting dog in Ossian's Fingal. Luath Press was established in 1981 in the heart of Burns country, and is now based a few steps up the road from Burns' first lodgings on Edinburgh's Royal Mile. Luath offers you distinctive writing with a hint of unexpected pleasures.

View from the Luath office

View from the Luath office


Luath's History

Luath Press was established by Tom and Rene Atkinson in Barr (near Girvan in Ayrshire) in 1981. Tom had recently returned to Scotland and, finding there were no good descriptive guides to the popular parts of Scotland, set about writing and publishing the Luath Guides Series. Other books by other writers followed including a number of popular titles that have remained in print for many years, such as Mountain Days and Bothy Nights, Bare Feet and Tackety Boots and more.

In the meantime, Tom's daughter Dee Atkinson had taken over the running of Napiers Herbalists and Tom found himself running Napiers Mail Order alongside Luath.

Tom died in 2007. In his obituary in The Guardian he was described as 'the Alistair Campbell of Indonesia'. As a teenager he had gone to Spain to join the International Brigade, only to be sent home as he was too young to fight in the Spanish Civil War. In WWII, he was in the RAF Servicing Commandos and at the end of the war he was heavily involved in securing independence for Indonesia. He subsequently worked directly for the new president for over 15 years, in which role he wrote a speech on the status of smaller nations delivered at the UN. After 'retiring' from Luath in 1997, two further books by Tom were published by – Napiers' History of Herbal Healing and Spectacles, Testicles, Fags and Matches – the latter recounting his experiences in WWII and afterwards in Indonesia. 

Following Tom's retirement, Gavin and Audrey MacDougall took over the running of the company and moved it from Barr to Edinburgh.

Since 1997, Luath has built on the sound core of well established books first published by Tom and Rene, and created various new series (On the Trail Of..., Walk With Luath, The Quest For, Let's Explore, Luath Storyteller, Viewpoints, Wild Lives) and launched various new writers and poets (Alison Irvine, Daniel Gray, Rab Wilson, Mark Thomson and many more).

We are now situated in offices on Edinburgh's famous Royal Mile, and we remain committed to publishing well-written books worth reading.