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Passing of Lanark author

Alasdair Gray, writer and artist, dies aged 85

Acclaimed: Alasdair Gray (pic: Canongate)

Alasdair Gray, one of the most acclaimed writers and artists in Scotland, has died at the age of 85.

His passing was announced this morning by Canongate, his publisher, which it was “deeply saddened to announce the death of Alasdair Gray”.

The author of Lanark, Janine and Poor Things, died peacefully earlier today at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in his native Glasgow, in the presence of family.

In a tweet Canongate said: “He was an exceptional short story writer, an artist – a designer of his own work, a painter of murals… – and has been Englishing Dante’s Divine Comedy.”

In another tweet, it added: “He was also a humane and decent man – outspoken and principled in his political beliefs – and wondrously idiosyncratic – almost everyone at Canongate had a great story about meeting him. I’m sure lots of people will be sharing theirs now.”

His family issued a message:

“Early this morning we lost a deeply loved member of our family. 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. In keeping with his principles Alasdair wanted his body donated to medical science, so there will be no funeral.”

Francis Bickmore, Gray’s editor and Publishing Director at Canongate, said: “What sad news this is that Alasdair Gray is gone. It seems hard to believe that Alasdair was mortal and might ever leave us.

“No one single figure has left such a varied legacy – or missed so many deadlines – as Alasdair Gray. At least through Gray’s phenomenal body of work he leaves a legacy that will outlive us all. His voice of solidarity and compassion for his fellow citizens, and his forward-looking vision is cause for great celebration and remembrance.”

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.”

A renowned polymath, Gray was beloved equally for his writing and art. His debut, Lanark, which Canongate published in 1981, is widely regarded as being one of the masterpieces of twentieth century fiction.

It was followed by more than 30 books, all of which he designed and illustrated, ranging from novels, short story collections, plays, volumes of poetry, works of non-fiction and translations – most recently, his interpretation of Dante’s Divine Trilogy.

His public murals are visible across Glasgow, with further examples of his work on display in galleries from the V&A to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.



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