SOME of Scotland's most celebrated literary figures are to lead a drive to revive the reputation of the "forgotten" writer who penned the nation's first working-class novel.

The Green Shutters Festival this weekend aims to help to bring the life and work of George Douglas Brown back into the public and critical consciousness.

Regarded as one of the first novels to articulate the harsh social realism of Scottish life at the end of the nineteenth century, Brown's standing has faltered in recent years. His birthplace has also lain gutted following a fire in 2004.

Writers including Janice Galloway and Tom Leonard have now promised their support by taking part in the festival on Saturday in Ochiltree, East Ayrshire, to celebrate Brown in his birthplace.

Organisers hope it will spark interest in the author of The House with the Green Shutters, regarded as a masterpiece of Scottish literature.

The company behind the event, Spartacus Arts and Music Management Services, is a promotion company focusing on the depressed, postindustrial Cumnock and Doon Valley region of East Ayrshire.

Mark Gilroy, one of the festival's organisers, said: "The House with the Green Shutters was the first Scottish workingclass novel, yet there is little mention of George Douglas Brown, never mind his achievement, in the area of his birth.

"We intend to make this event a tenant of Ayrshire's cultural calendar to redress the anonymity that he and his work currently receives. It's important to recognise he was the man who laid the template for people like Lewis Grassic Gibbon or Alasdair Gray."

Last year, Brown's seminal work was included among the best 100 Scottish books of all time, a list produced by the Scottish Book Trust and The List magazine.

The B-listed house in which Brown was born, immortalised in his classic novel, has lain derelict for the past year.

Home for four decades to Ochiltree British Legion Club, it suffered severe structural damage and its interior was destroyed during a blaze in December 2004.

The club had been campaigning to raise awareness of the heritage of the house, but did not have the finances to insure it, and now fear it will never be reinstated.

The club bought the house for [GBP]63 in 1962 and turned it into its branch headquarters. Although it added several prefabricated buildings to the rear of the property, the original building remained virtually unchanged.

William Menzies, councillor for Ochiltree, added: "It's a real shame what's happened with the house. The fire took place in an extension in the back and damaged the main building.

"Even though it's listed, it wasn't insured, and the British Legion have encountered great difficulties in trying to raise funds to repair it.

"I've approached various bodies in an attempt to get it restored, but there hasn't been much success as yet. I'm hopeful this festival could change that, though.

"It'll not only raise the reputation of George Douglas Brown and his writing, but of Ochiltree, and it'll hopefully have a lot of spin-off benefits."