POET and playwright Liz Lochhead has been named as Scotland's new Makar, taking over the role from the late Edwin Morgan.
• Liz Lochhead is one of Scotland's most celebrated writers
Lochhead, who said today she was "delighted" to be named as the nation's new national poet, will undertake her first official engagement this Friday when she opens the new Robert Burns Museum in Alloway.
The role of Makar has been vacant since the death of Morgan in August last year at the age of 90. He had held the post since its creation in 2004.
Making the announcement at the National Library of Scotland in Edinburgh today, First Minister Alex Salmond said: "I am extremely pleased to announce the appointment of Liz Lochhead to the post of Scots Makar.
"As an author, translator, playwright, stage performer, broadcaster and grande dame of Scottish theatre, Ms Lochhead embodies everything a nation would want from its national poet."
Born in Motherwell in 1947, Lochhead initially pursued a career as a lecturer in fine art after attending the Glasgow School of Art. But in the early 1970s she turned to literature after joining Philip Hobsbaum's celebrated writer's group - which also included Alasdair Gray, James Kelman and Tom Leonard.
Her poetry - including collections like Dreaming Frankenstein - and plays such as Mary Queen of Scots Got Her Head Chopped Off have earned her numerous awards.
Today she said she was "surprised" by her latest honour, adding: "I accept it on behalf of poetry itself, which is, and always has been, the core of our culture, and in grateful recognition of the truth that poetry - the reading of it, the writing of it, the saying it out loud, the learning of it off by heart - all of this matters deeply to ordinary Scottish people everywhere."
A holder of honorary doctorates from ten Scottish universities, Lochhead will take up her post with immediate effect, and will stand down from her post as Glasgow's Makar.