Here the poet grew up, in no little hardship, though his deep love for the land and the people overcame that - it was to be the old Norse name for the area that he adopted as his nom-de-plume. A shy boy who adjusted with difficulty to the rough and tumble of school, he was nonetheless able both at physical and intellectual pursuits, and in time he excelled. He took his MA at Edinburgh University and was offered the possibility of postgraduate work at Oxford, which he turned down for financial reasons, instead becoming a teacher at the Lerwick Central School and carer to his ailing mother.
In 1953, he married Martha (‘Pat’), daughter of the Reverend Robert Andrew, Church of Scotland minister in Walls for over forty years, a girl he had known in childhood. She became a colleague and collaborator on many fronts, and together they edited Da Sangs at A’ll sing ta Dee (The Songs that I'll sing to you), a collection of dialect songs and music (1973). One of his own lyric poems, Da Sang o da Papa Men, written from the persective of the Papa Stour fishermen 'rowin Foula doon', has become a favourite Shetland song, to music composed by T.M.Y.Manson.
In 1945, Vagaland was instrumental in the founding of the Shetland Folk Society and he was an office-bearer from its inception until his death after a long illness, in Lerwick on the 30th of December 1973. He was one of the writers who helped to establish The New Shetlander in 1947, and he was a key supporter of the journal for twenty seven years till his death. Each issue included at least one poem by Vagaland. With John J. Graham, he co-wrote 'Grammar and Usage of the Shetland Dialect' (1952); co-edited the influential anthology of Shetland verse and prose, 'Nordern Lights' (1964), both crucially important publications, and a number of volumes of the The Shetland Folk Book.