First published in 1933, Sun Circle belongs to Gunn's most creative period. A story of love and awakening set in a time of critical upheaval during the dawn of Scottish history, Breeta's people are the ancient, newly Christianized Pictish tribes living in remote Northern Scotland in the 9th century. Assailed by the pagan Vikings from across the sea, the clash of Christianity and paganism, of old and new, of Viking and Pict, is a conflict from which the Scottish nation is forged.
Neil Miller Gunn was born in Dunbeath, one of the nine children of 'bookish' Isabella Miller, and James Gunn, a fishing skipper of local renown. In 1911, he began 26 years as an excise officer, many of them at whisky distilleries in the Highlands and the Islands. In 1921, Gunn married Jessie Frew. The first of his 21 novels, The Grey Coast, appeared in 1926. In 1937, the acclaim won by his seventh, the prize-winning Highland River, encouraged him to resign his excise post and write full-time. Gunn's wife died in 1963, and he lived alone in the Black Isle until his death. Since then, his standing as one of Scotland's finest novelists had become even more firmly established, and the Neil Gunn International Fellowship has been founded in his honor.