Tributes Paid After William McIlvanney Dies

6 December 2015, 08:16 | Updated: 6 December 2015, 08:24

Fellow authors and politicians have led tributes to celebrated Scottish writer William McIlvanney, who has died after a short illness.

The author of the Laidlaw trilogy and numerous other Glasgow-based works such as Docherty, The Big Man and The Kiln died peacefully at his home in the city on Saturday.

He was 79 and is survived by his partner Siobhan, daughter Siobhan, son Liam and brother Hugh, the respected sports journalist.

Mr McIlvanney, originally from Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, was an English teacher before changing career in 1975 to write full-time.

He gained immediate recognition with the publication of his first novel, Remedy Is None, and through other works he earned the title of ``Godfather of Tartan Noir''.

He was also an influential poet, journalist and broadcaster, and contributed to political and sporting life in Scotland through a series of columns and TV programmes.

Authors such as Ian Rankin and Val McDermid described him as an inspiration in their careers.

Rebus creator Rankin paid tribute to McIlvanney on Twitter with the story of the first time they met.

He said: ``Dreadful news about William McIlvanney. A truly inspired and inspiring author and an absolute gent.

''First time I met McIlvanney I said I was writing a crime novel, influenced my him. He signed my book: 'Good luck for the Edinburgh Laidlaw'.

''A few years later we did an event together in Edinburgh and he signed another: 'The Edinburgh Laidlaw done good.' RIP, Willie.''

Crime writer McDermid also posted on social media, writing: ``I've just heard the heart-breaking news that Willie McIlvanney has died.

''He showed so many of us Scottish writers what was possible.''

Mr McIlvanney won a number of awards, including the Whitbread Prize, the Crime Writers' Association's Silver Dagger, the Saltire Award and the Glasgow Herald People's Prize.

The author influenced a generation of writers both in his native country and beyond, with the debt to US writers being acknowledged last year with the republication of his novels.

Speaking earlier this year before the screening of a documentary on his life, Mr McIlvanney said he wanted to write ''three or four new things'' before the end of his career.

He said: ''I get shifty when I talk about it but there are three or four things I'd like to write before I 'cash in', but whether I will or not I don't know.

''I write from compulsion, I have to generate a compulsion, I have probably four ideas that matter to me very much and I hope to realise them, but if you're a betting man don't put a bet on it, just wait and see what happens.

''There's things I've started - I'm a great starter, not so good at finishing - I've started several things and would like to write maybe three of four things that matter to me.''

Mr McIlvanney taught English from 1960 until 1975 at Irvine Royal Academy and then Greenwood Academy, Dreghorn, North Ayrshire, where he was also assistant head teacher.

He maintained links to education through his writing career and held a series of creative writing posts at international universities.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon went to the Irvine school Mr McIlvanney had taught in and said she was brought to tears by his death.

''His writing had a huge influence on me when I was growing up,'' she said.

''Docherty, in my view, is one of the classic novels of our time.

''Willie came from Ayrshire - as I do - and had taught at my school in the years before I went there, so he was something of a local hero. I will always remember the thrill of eventually getting to meet him some years later.

''Willie's passion for social justice and for Scotland - warts and all - shone through all of his work. His description of Scotland as a 'mongrel nation' powerfully summed up our wonderful diversity as a country.

''Willie was an iconic figure in Scottish literature and deserves to be remembered as one of our literary greats.''

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale described the author as a ''cultural giant''.

She said: ''William McIlvanney inspired generations with his writing, not just here in Scotland but throughout the world. People right across the world will be sad to hear this news.

''The thoughts and prayers of everybody will be with the McIlvanney family today.''

Former prime minister Gordon Brown said: ''William McIlvanney was a friend of many years and one of our most brilliant writers.

''He had a burning desire for social justice and he leaves behind imperishable works that will be read down the generations.''