A haunting and compelling novel set one thousand years ago in the remote northwest Highlands of Scotland, "The Last Bear" recounts a tale of ecological and spiritual crisis from the viewpoint of one extraordinary woman. Taking the story of the extinction of the brown bear as its focal point, a story of love, jealousy, family and faith unfolds as Brigid, the last in a long line of medicine women, tries to live out her life in a time of upheaval without losing her cultural roots. Her personal struggle is set against a transforming world, as powerful Viking families clash with Celts and old pagan beliefs are challenged by Christian faith, changes that reach even into the timeless depths of the forest. Haggith weaves evocative descriptions of the natural world into a narrative that binds the characters ever more tightly into intrigue. Who killed the last bear in Scotland, and with what consequences?
Mandy Haggith first studied Philosophy and Mathematics and then Artificial Intelligence and spent years struggling to write elegant computer programs that could help to save the planet. A decade ago she left academia to pursue a life of writing and revolution, and has since travelled all over the world researching forests and the people dependent on them and campaigning for their protection. In 2003, she returned to Glasgow University to study for an MPhil in Creative Writing, gaining a distinction. A pamphlet of her poetry, letting light in, was published in 2005. Her first full collection of poetry, Castings, was published by Two Ravens Press in 2007. She lives on a woodland croft in Assynt.