Born in Elderslie and educated in Tarbert Loch Fyne, Edinburgh and Oxford, George Campbell Hay spent most of his life in Edinburgh, but preserved a lifelong attachment to Kintyre, and in particular to Tarbert.
Much of his poetry is a celebration of Kintyre, the land and its people, particularly the fishermen.
Most of these poems had been written between 1938 and 1945 and already published in periodicals; they include translations from eleven languages. Hay's most important work, ‘Mochtàr is Dùghall’, was not published until 1982. Hay also wrote articles and stories (many of which were published in ‘Gairm’ and the ‘Scots Independent’) and was active in the Scottish nationalist movement. His papers also reflect his linguistic interests, especially in the dialects of Kintyre; in about 1938 he began work on a dictionary of Gaelic usage, which was never completed.
Hay's literary career was seriously impaired by a nervous breakdown which he suffered in 1946 while serving with the Royal Air Force in Greece. He did not resume his poetic work until circa l960, and wrote regularly from 1969 until 1984. These periods of activity are reflected in his notebooks.