Gabrielle Barnby, author and creative practitioner, Orkney.

Gabrielle Barnby is an author and creative practitioner based in Orkney.

She writes novels, short stories, reviews and poetry, and also encourages creativity in others through community events and workshops. 

Every day we talk, describe, ponder, gossip and imagine life outside our own experience. My passion is to creatively transform these glimpses and wonderings into poetry that moves the soul and narratives that stir the imagination. I write in a range of forms and styles and I’m sure there is something you’re going to enjoy.

The Oystercatcher Girl, is set in the wild and beautiful landscape of the remote Orkney Islands, mystery, danger and romance spill from the pages. My collection of short stories, The House with the Lilac Shutters and other stories, is set in the warm foothills of the Pyrenees and explores the secrets and passions of interconnected lives. Peace-Land commemorates the 100th anniversary of the first world war and follows the internment and scuttling of the German High Seas Fleet in Scapa Flow, Orkney.  Death in April Creek is a page turning thriller set in New Zealand written under my pen name Helena Cooke.

A Way Out, And A Way In is my first poetry collection. My aim was to create a collection that was personal and accessible, something that I would find pleasurable to put together and share. 

‘There are always imperfections, they are my troublesome companions on the road to insight.

I couldn’t go anywhere without them.’

When not writing I host a variety of workshops. Currently, I tutor Environmental Writing for Wellbeing for Orkney Islands Council Community Learning. These on-line and face to face sessions bring creative awareness and wellbeing through tasks and reflections based on the environment. I’m also involved in community arts events in Orkney through Stromness Writing Group and am programme leader for Wirdsmit, Orkney’s writing group for children and young people.

If you have read my work please leave a review somewhere, they are essential encouragement and they make a huge difference to small publishers.

If you have a response to something I have written please send your comments or find me on twitter.

GMB art installation, Gabrielle Barnby, Stromness

George Mackay Brown public art project

Read about my collaboration with Orla Stevens to create new writing and art to celebrate the 2021 centenary of GMB.

Featured on Museum Galleries Scotland in their list of most inspiring Community Stories Programme projects as part of the George Mackay Brown Trail

New poems inspired by collaboration

GMB Trail Guide

Raindrops in the Fire, edited by Gabrielle Barnby, Age Scotland Orkney, Culture Collective, Dementia Hub

Raindrops in the Fire is a collection of creative conversations, memories and poetry that emerged during creative writing sessions I facilitated in spring 2022 for Age Scotland Orkney funded by Culture Collective and supported by The Pier Arts Centre



Across the Silent Sea, book cover, Gabrielle Barnby, Orkney

ACROSS THE SILENT SEA –  by Gabrielle Barnby

New Spring/Summer release with Sparsile books

More details soon…

Primo Poetica, The Hampden Collection, football poems, Gabrielle Barnby

Primo Poetica 42 – The Oystercatchers Call Full Time

Pleased to contribute a poem to Mind the Links, Golf Memories. All proceeds go to supporting individuals living with dementia and memory loss. Tippermuir Books.

Travellers, artwork, Stromness, by the sea, Gabrielle Barnby, Orla Stevens, George Mackay Brown

Press and Journal April 23, 2022,New public artwork takes its place in Stromness’s George Mackay Brown community garden’ Read full article here.

Fantastic to hear my participants reading their own words in this Radio Orkney feature on ‘Raindrops in the Fire’ a collection of creative conversations, memories and poetry from the Dementia Hub, Age Scotland Orkney.

Excited to be involved in this Culture Collective panel

Nourish: Health and Wellbeing

The Wondrous Scarf, George Mackay Brown, Gabrielle Barnby, The National. Scotland's independence newspaper

The Wondrous Scarf, George Mackay Brown, Gabrielle Barnby, The National. Scotland's independence newspaper

Fantastic to be celebrating Scottish Book Week and the George Mackay Brown centenary by playing my part in The Wondrous Scarf a creative writing workshop with participants from as far as Boston and across the UK.

Beyond the Swelkie, George Mackay Brown, Gabrielle Barnby, Orkney, poems, anthology, writer

NEW RELEASE – Beyond the Swelkie, an anthology celebrating the centenary of George Mackay Brown from Tippermuir Books. Honoured to have two new poems included, both inspired by a visit to the GMB’s grave.

New Flash Fiction Review, Gabrielle Barnby

Read my piece ‘The Zoo’ in New Flash Fiction Review.

Pushing Out The Boat

I also have new writing in Pushing Out The Boat, Issue 16.

Launch Sunday 16th May.

The New Shetlander, Gabrielle Barnby, poems, Orkney

Very happy to have a poem in the snazzy new look issue of The New Shetlander

Stanza Scotlands International Poetry Festival, Gabrielle Barnby

Delighted to read two poems from A Way Out, And a Way In at Stanza Poetry Festival Open Mic.

The Hampden Collection

Football and poetry – passionate bedfellows. Thrilled to have The Green Deck included in #primopoetica as part of The Hampden Collection

UHI LitSoc New Beginnings magazine

Pleased to see my piece on protecting creativity featuring in the very first issue of the UHI LitSoc New Beginnings magazine.

New release from Stromness Writing Group, ‘again to get up’ lockdown haiku.

The Scotsman, The Oystercatcher Girl, Gabrielle Barnby, new novel, Orkney, Writer

The Oystercatcher Girl, excerpt in The Scotsman newspaper.

Click here for Old News

New Writing

Wayfarers – new poems inspired by the George Mackay Brown centenary artwork collaboration

Magnificat – Part of the Words into Music project to celebrate the George Mackay Brown centenary.

Red inspired by audio recording from Orkney Archive

Farewell to Living Orkney

The Tern – Inspired by the birds around the Peedie Sea.

A Countrywoman’s Diary written for The Heart and Soul of Orkney autumn Foy.

Dingieshowe.Gabrielle Barnby, Orkney.

Stromness Per Mare street name acrostic

Khyber Pass

Gabrielle Barnby, Khyber Pass, acrostic, Stromness, Orkney, poem

Poems written to celebrate Magnus 900.

Go to your knees


Magnus and the Crow

Death In April Creek, Helena Cooke, Gabrielle Barnby, pen name, Orkney, New Zealand, thriller, Neverton, Babette Stevenson.
Set in the fictional town of Eastport, New Zealand, this detective thriller gets to the dark heart of family relationships.’
Romance, Scotland, The Oystercatcher Girl, Gabrielle Barnby, Orkney, love, forgiveness, redemption, Thunderpoint, fiction, debut novel.
‘… a beautifully understated story of deception and forgiveness, love and redemption.’
House with the Lilac Shutters and other stories by Gabrielle Barnby. Short stories, fiction, Orkney, Thunderpoint.
‘This is utterly original story-making of a very high quality, brave in its scope and range.’
Peace- Land , Gabrielle Barnby, Scapa Flow, poem, Scuttling, German Fleet, Orkney, 1919.
‘I was left feeling profoundly moved by the flaws in humans which stain our history.’