Alasdair Gray death: Scottish author of Lanark and Poor Things dies aged 85

Fans observed that Gray’s artistic contributions to his city meant he would ‘live forever in Glasgow’

Roisin O'Connor
Sunday 29 December 2019 13:05
Comments
Artist and author Alasdair Gray dies aged 85

Scottish writer and artist Alasdair Gray, regarded of one of his country’s “literary giants”, has died aged 85.

The news was announced by Gray’s publisher Canongate. He died early in the morning surrounded by family in hospital, in his home city of Glasgow.

Gray’s fellow authors were among those to pay tribute: Val McDermid said Gray “transformed our expectations of what Scottish literature could be”.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, called Gray a “decent principled human being” in a tribute on Twitter, adding: “He’ll be remembered best for the masterpiece that is Lanark, but everything he wrote reflected his brilliance.

“Today, we mourn the loss of a genius, and think of his family.”

Relatives released a statement through Mr Gray’s publisher Canongate.

“Early this morning we lost a deeply loved member of our family,” they said. “Alasdair was an extraordinary person; very talented and, even more importantly, very humane.

“He was unique and irreplaceable and we will miss him greatly. We would like to thank Alasdair’s many friends for their love and support, especially in recent years, together with the staff of the Queen Elizabeth hospital, Glasgow, who treated him and us with such care and sensitivity during his short illness.”

His agent Jenny Brown said: “We mourn Alasdair Gray’s passing, but his genius will live on for readers through his remarkable work.

“He was a cultural trailblazer: nobody has done more to spur on, and give confidence to, the next generation of Scottish writers.”

Gray was born in Glasgow in 1934, and raised on an estate he once described as “one of the earliest and most posh of the municipal housing schemes”.

He studied painting at the Glasgow School of Art, and worked as a muralist, part-time art teacher and theatrical scene painter while writing scripts for TV and radio.

His first novel, Lanark, was published in 1981, when he was 46, and drew comparisons to James Joyce’s Ulysses. This was followed by 1982’s experimental fantasy Janine, and 1992’s reworking of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Poor Things.

With his growing success as a writer, Gray also began to be noticed for the illustrations he created to accompany his books; among his steady output of novels, short stories and non-fiction was an illustrated translation of Dante’s Inferno, which was published in 2018.

His public murals are visible across Glasgow, with further pieces on display in the V&A and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.

“I feel healthier painting than writing,” Gray told The Guardian in 2010, “because when you’ve been writing a lot and your head is full of words, you are still muscularly not exhausted, but you’re nervously exhausted, so in order to sleep you go out and drink heavily, unless you’re more disciplined than I am.”

Gray’s family have said he wanted to leave his body to science, and there will not be a funeral.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in