Author Ian Rankin to gift his archive to the nation

THE bestselling author who penned a series of Edinburgh-based crime novels is set to hand his archives over to the National Library of Scotland.

Saturday, 6th October 2018, 6:00 am
Master craftsman Ian Rankin. Picture: AFP/Getty Images

Ian Rankin, the creator of misanthropic Inspector John Rebus, was invited to house his extensive collection of manuscripts, letters and other paperwork by the library which also holds the archive of Muriel Spark, William McIlvanney and Alisdair Gray, among others.

Mr Rankin helped the fundraising effort that led to the National Library of Scotland purchasing some of Muriel Spark’s papers. He has long been a fan of the Edinburgh-born novelist who wrote 22 novels including The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie and The Driver’s Seat.

This year has seen a series of events across Edinburgh and Scotland celebrating the 100th anniversary of her birth.

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Edinburgh City Council announced that the city would honour her by naming a pathway in Bruntsfield and a flight of steps off the Grassmarket after the author and her most famous character, Jean Brodie.

She was the subject of a PhD thesis undertaken by Mr Rankin when he was studying at the University of Edinburgh.

Born in Edinburgh as Muriel Camberg, she lived on Bruntsfield Place and attended the then James Gillespie’s High School for Girls, where one of her teachers, Christina Kay, was to provide the inspiration for The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie.

As part of the celebrations Mr Rankin was invited to write the introduction to a re-issue of her novel, The Hothouse by the East River.

The award-winning author, who lives in the Capital, is down-sizing after his son moved away from home.

Moving from a detached house to a three-bedroom flat, he writes in the Literary Review, has “focused the mind wonderfully, or terrifyingly”.

He tells the magazine that he went through every item, “lest there be something there I don’t want anyone seeing” while he has shredded financial papers.

During the clear out, which he described as “cathartic”, he has recycled many of his belongings and donated much of his music and book collection to Capital charity shops.

Re-discovering some of his past correspondences with friends and peers, including fellow Scot and author Iain Banks, murder-mystery writer Ruth Rendell and crime writer Reginald Hill, has been poignant, he writes.

These letters will be included in the 19 boxes that will soon take up residence in the national library on George IV Bridge, in whose vaults the acclaimed author worked on his unfinished PhD thesis.

John Rebus made his debut in Mr Rankin’s second novel, Knots and Crosses, which was published in March 1987.

The Fife-born author started novels while he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish literature.

A spokesman for the National Library of Scotland said: “We are currently in negotiations regarding Ian Rankin’s archive. Like all our ongoing negotiations, these are strictly confidential. It would be inappropriate for us to comment further.”