Category Archives: The Cone Gatherers

Robin Jenkins


John Robin Jenkins was born on 11 September 1912 in the village of Flemington, near Cambuslang in Lanarkshire. His father died in 1919 and his mother worked as a cook and housekeeper to support her four children. Jenkins was awarded a bursary to attend Hamilton Academy and studied English at the University of Glasgow, graduating with an MA in 1936. He married in 1937 and taught in Glasgow for some years. At the outbreak of World War II he accompanied his primary school pupils on evacuation to the Borders.


By now a committed pacifist, Jenkins registered as a conscientious objector (CO); and for his war service was directed to work for the Forestry Commission.
During the war COs were used in a variety of jobs which helped the war effort without actually engaging in combat, although a number of COs did service in the medical corps as stretcher bearers and were exposed to as much danger as those fighting at the front.
His experience of forestry work in Argyll from 1940 to 1946 is reflected both in his first novel So Gaily Sings the Lark and in the better-known The Cone Gatherers.
There are themes of good versus evil in nearly all Jenkins’s books or short stories and the reader can see this developing over the course of Jenkins’s literary career. Jenkins had a hatred of war and one of his early short stories, Flowers, tells of a young girl sent to the Highlands to escape the Glasgow bombings who then stumbles across the bodies of two airmen thus becoming exposed to the horrors of the very war she had been sent away to avoid. The dead airmen are faceless which is symbolic of the horror and facelessness of combat and are an example of the way Jenkins used metaphors, similes and symbols to great effect in most of his writing.

jenkins 2

Jenkins’s anti-war viewpoint was something he tried to convey through his stories – he saw war as evil caused by men who are themselves evil. In this story Jenkins also shows how, by discovering the horrors of war, his young heroine loses her innocence. There are metaphors and symbols throughout the story about Eden, Adam and Eve the fallen woman, the serpent who lead her astray and her eventual loss of innocence of what is evil about her world.
After the war he taught in Glasgow and Dunoon, beginning to write seriously at this time. In 1957 he moved abroad to teach in colleges in Afghanistan, Spain and Malaysia, settings which he used for several novels in the middle stages of his career. He returned to Scotland in 1968 and retired from teaching in 1970 to become a full-time writer and settled in Toward, near Dunoon, where he lived until his death in 2005.
In all Jenkins produced 30 novels. His work, though critically acclaimed, has not always sold well, but he continued to write, telling interviewers during the 1980s that he had four or five unpublished novels in a drawer. This situation, clearly unacceptable in the case of such a distinguished novelist, was resolved and he is now being published again and more widely appreciated. His wife died in 1990. He was awarded the OBE in 1999, and in 2002 received the Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun award, given annually by the Saltire Society, in recognition of his lifetime achievement as a writer.


Facebook Profiles for The Cone Gatherers

For Monday 1/10/2012.

Everyone in has class has been assigned one of the main characters from The Cone Gatherers.

Callum     Neil     Duror     Lady Runcie Campbell

For your character you are to create a character profile. This is when you gather all the information that makes up their important features and traits. If you wish, you can do this in the form of a facebook profile page to which I will attach a link to below.

The point of this exercise is to make sure we have a good clear idea of each of the main characters, what they are like and what there role is in the novel. Characterisation is of course an important feature to be able to discuss in the Higher critical essay.

In your profile you should try to include as much important information about your character as possible and back up all your information with quotes from the text – this is really important.

What kind of information should you include?

Name, approx age and physical description, personality traits, important and revealing quotes, ambitions, wants and desires, likes and dislikes, family ties etc. Just remember – everything must be backed up by evidence from the text!