Job applications open to curate Ian Rankin’s archive at National Library

Applications are open for an Ian Rankin fan’s dream job – curating his personal archive.

Monday, 17th June 2019, 8:23 am
Scottish crime writer Ian Rankin, holding his 1984 manuscript for his first published novel Flood, with some of the 50 boxes of his own personal archive which he is donating to the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh.

The crime writer donated more than 50 boxes of manuscripts, letters and other paperwork to the National Library of Scotland earlier this year.

Going through the boxes after decades collecting dust, Rankin found long-forgotten scripts for a sitcom and crime drama series. The author is hoping other material can be unearthed on some floppy disks he couldn’t get access to.

This task will be among those given to the Ian Rankin project curator – a new role partly funded by the author himself.

The National Library of Scotland posted an ad for the job - which has a salary of £27,777 – on Friday. The library is keeping tight-lipped about what exactly they are looking for, with only the job description giving clues to the ideal candidate.

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It is essential to have “enthusiasm and respect for a nationally significant collection” and experience working in archiving.

The national librarian, Dr John Scally, said the job is essential in helping the public discover more of the archive.

Dr Scally added: “This is a comprehensive, fascinating, in-depth archive, spanning several decades. It is rich in detail — all of which will become fully apparent as the curator works through the archive.

“We must thank Ian for making a substantial donation towards the creation of this post. This means we will soon be able to open up the archive to all.”

Rankin hopes an exhibition will be staged next year to coincide with his 60th birthday, with the documents showing the development of his writing style from 1972 onwards.

He said: “You can definitely see a real progression in the archive from when I first came to Edinburgh and was only writing poems, to writing for the student newspaper, reviewing events at the book festival, writing short stories, winning a few prizes, and getting the first novel published and then making a real go of it as a full-time writer.”

The crime writer decided to hand over the collection to the National Library of Scotland after downsizing to a new apartment.

He said: “We’ve gone from an eight-bedroom house in Merchiston to a three-bedroom flat in Quartermile. Modern flats have no storage space, so we knew we had to do something, and I didn’t want to leave all the clutter to my kids.

“I’ve given the archive to the National Library for nothing. I didn’t want or need the money and I was just grateful that they took it.

“I’ve given them some money so they can get a full-time archivist in.”

The collection includes correspondence from writers Iain Banks, Inspector Morse creator Colin Dexter, crime writer Ruth Rendell, JK Rowling and Val McDermid.

Among the manuscripts is a copy of Rankin’s first Inspector Rebus novel, Knots and Crosses, which was partly written and set in the library’s headquarters on George IV Bridge.

Hopefuls have until June 30 to apply for the job, which is a temporary 13-month role.