Tamsin Calidas

Posted by Sue Leonard on Saturday 19th September 2020

Tamsin has always been drawn to the arts.

“As a child I expressed myself in art and music – it was an escape from a difficult childhood. I loved words. One of my first memories was looking up, ‘blue,’ in a Thesaurus and realizing how sensory and visual words could be.”

Leaving university in 1992, Tamsin moved to London and worked in various advertising and publishing jobs. She also worked for the BBC.

“I was going up the ladder, but in my mid-twenties, after a car crash, I realised there’s more to life.”

In 2004, Tamsin and her husband up sticks, moving from Notting Hill to a remote island in the Scottish Hebrides. With no farming experience, they bought and ran a derelict croft with sheep and horses.

“It was a pretty big decision. And it was challenging and difficult, but with time for reflection, it was a bit like actualizing my own myth.”

Life was far from easy, as the couple struggled to make a living. The islanders were less than welcoming; the hoped for children didn’t appear, and ultimately, the marriage failed.

“But this is home,” says Tamsin. “It’s where my heart is.”


Who is Tamsin Calidas? 

Place of birth:  Sussex, England.

Education: Three secondary schools, a state, an independent, and a boarding school. Oxford University, English language and literature.

“I loved the Anglo Saxon and Medieval texts.”

Home: An island in the Scottish Hebrides.

Family: Brother, sister and their children.

“Then there’s my wilder family. I’ve raised three baby robins, some crows, thrushes and starlings.”

The Day Job: Writer and Photographer.

“And I’ve started painting and writing poetry again.”

In Another Life: “I’d like to go to a Greek island and relive the childhood of Gerald Durrell.”

Favourite Writers: Svetlana Alexievich; Virginia Woolf; Tolstoy; James Joyce; Simone de Beauvoir; Anna Hope.

Second Book: “I’d been working on a novel, but another idea has grabbed me.”

Top Tip: “The process of writing comes naturally when I allow my heart to speak.”

Instagram: @tamsincalidas

The Debut: I am an Island. Doubleday: €16.99. Kindle: €10.87. 

What starts as an idyllic account of island life, soon sours into one of hardship and difficulty. It’s about being an outsider, but ultimately about the healing power of nature.

The Verdict: Lyrical, honest, and haunting.


Published in The Irish Examiner on 1st August.

© Sue J Leonard. 2020





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