A FORGOTTEN Scots author's debut novel has been republished for a new generation of readers.

The late Walker Hamilton's All The Little Animals has been revived by Glasgow publishers Freight Books, with a foreword by award-winning Scottish novelist Alan Warner.

Adrian Searle, publisher at Freight Books, is keen to celebrate the Airdrie author's 1960s classic, an unsettling adult fable about roadkill, which tells the tale of Bobby, a 31-year-old man with the mind of a child, who runs away from his privileged but abusive London home to rural Cornwall.

There he meets Mr Summers, a man with a terrible secret who, in atonement, has dedicated his life to burying animals he finds on the side of the road.

The novel follows the duo as they embark on a bizarre mission and a savage act of revenge.

All The Little Animals was published in 1968 to acclaim by critics and fellow writers, including Roald Dahl.

But Walker, who was plagued by ill health and a weak heart, sadly passed away a few months later, aged just 34.

His second novel, A Dragon's Life, was published posthumously in 1970.

Born in Airdrie in 1934, Walker was the son of a miner and left school at 15. He studied accountancy at evening classes, undertook National Service with the RAF and worked in a Glasgow brewery as a technician.

He married in 1960 and he and his wife, Dorothy, moved to Cornwall shortly after.

"They led quite an idyllic life down there," said Adrian.

"One day they were walking down a country lane and came across a bird that had been hit by a car. Walker bent down, scooped it up and put it on the verge in a very reverential way.

"Dorothy said there was a gleam in his eye and that was when he got the idea for the book.

"He didn't discuss the idea with her but he worked away at it and though the book is quite short, it's a masterpiece."

Although now largely forgotten, All The Little Animals was adapted into a Hollywood feature film in 1999, a directorial debut for Academy Award-winning producer Jeremy Thomas.

The film starred actor John Hurt as Mr Summers and a then 25-year-old Christian Bale, who played Bobby.

Bale would later go on to gain critical acclaim for his role in the blockbuster Batman trilogy.

All The Little Animals was a box office flop, only making $26,558 for its total gross.

"Christian Bale was a wee bit miscast," said Adrian.

"Alan Warner said it lacked the dreamlike quality of the book, which made the story compelling."

Freight is keen to publish more forgotten Scottish classics in the future.

"We asked high-profile Scottish literary figures, including Alan Warner, which books they'd like to see back in print," said Adrian.

"Alan said immediately without hesitation All The Little Animals.

"He had discovered a first edition in a bookshop and was shocked and surprised to discover it was by a Scottish writer and he instantly fell in love with it."

Adrian then took on the task of tracking down Walker's widow Dorothy, who remained in Cornwall.

"The book has been out of print since 1998 so the rights have reverted back to her," he said.

"She proved impossible to track down at first but what I didn't know was that she was an established travel writer.

"We eventually got the publishing rights and commissioned Seb Howell from Glasgow School of Art to do the artwork and illustrations for each chapter.

"Dorothy is quite reserved as a person, but I think she's delighted with the job we've done on the book and pleased it's getting an airing again."

Adrian now hopes new and younger audiences can rediscover the delights of All The Little Animals.

"The book is about loss of innocence and also the suffering of innocence in he modern world," he said.

"It's about people at the bottom of the rung in society and animals are also at the bottom.

"Because Walker died in his prime, he never got the attention he deserved.

"What's most bizarre is that he seems to be completely unknown in Scotland, which is a real shame."

Adrian and Dorothy are also keen to trace any remaining members of Walker's family in Scotland.

"She's had no contact with them for a very long time," he said.

"If anyone knows anyone who may be related to Walker, we'd like them to get in touch."

l All The Little Animals is available online and from all good bookshops, priced £7.99.