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William Angus McIlvanney


1936 -

Novelist and poet. Born in Kilmarnock, the younger brother of sports journalist Hugh McIlvanney (b.1933), McIlvanney was educated at the Kilmarnock Academy and the University of Glasgow. Between 1960 and 1975, he worked as a teacher in Irvine and Dreghorn (North Ayrshire), before becoming a full-time writer.

McIlvanney is firmly established as an important and popular contemporary Scottish writer. His first novel Remedy is None (1966) strongly reflected his working-class roots and values and was well-received. Other novels followed: A Gift from Nessus (1968), Docherty (1975), the powerful tale of an Ayrshire miner which won the Whitbread award, The Big Man (1985) and The Kiln (1996), which won the Saltire Scottish Book of the Year Award. McIlvanney is perhaps best known for his crime thrillers featuring the Glasgow detective Jack Laidlaw; namely Laidlaw (1977), The Papers of Tony Veitch (1983) and Strange Loyalties (1991). These caused some consternation in literary circles, where it was felt he had given up his deeply-held social values, but they were well received by the public.

In addition he has produced poetry, The Longships in Harbour (1970) and These Words (1989), short stories, essays and is a respected journalist. He has also won a BAFTA Award for his dramatisation of one of his short stories Dreaming and his acclaimed short story collection, Walking Wounded (1989), won two People's Prize Awards from the readers of The Herald newspaper. His essays and journalism are collected in Surviving the Shipwreck (1991).

McIlvanney regularly contributes to Edinburgh's Book Festival.


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