"The Bull Calves" was researched and written during the Second World War. This is very surprising, as Naomi Mitchison was tremendously busy at her home in Carradale, Kintyre, keeping open house for evacuees and refugees, running the farm and driving the tractor, organising the local Labour Party, and writing and producing for the dramatic society - and so on. She also wrote a diary for Mass Observation, of more than a million words. But she had to take her time with the novel and plan it more carefully than she usually had time for. She wanted to give Scotland and the world a message, of the need for peace and working together after a bitter war. She chose to write about the aftermath of the Jacobite rising of 1745, and set her novel at Gleneagles, on the Highland line, with her characters her own ancestors. A very personal prefatory poem indicates that the whole operation was very close to her heart, and the ensuing novel is her best historical novel, and still topical today.