Alasdair Gray: 'Genius' author and artist dies
Alasdair Gray, who has died after a short illness, has been described as a “unique talent” and “one of the true greats of Scottish art and literature”.
The author, known for his masterpiece Lanark, died aged 85 on Sunday at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow, publisher Canongate announced.
The artist’s family were at his side.
Gray wrote more than 30 books, which he also designed and illustrated.
His works included novels, short story collections, plays, volumes of poetry, works of non-fiction and translations.
He created several murals in his hometown of Glasgow and his work is also on display in galleries ranging from the V&A to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
The novel Lanark, published in 1981, was hailed as a modern classic and mixing fantasy, autobiography and social realism.
It tells the interwoven stories of Lanark and Duncan Thaw, and is set in the cities of Glasgow and Unthank.
In a statement shared by Canongate, his family said: “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.”
Gray has asked that his body be donated to medical science, meaning there will be no funeral.
Tributes poured in for the beloved figure, with First Minister Nicola Sturgeon saying on Twitter: “Such sad news. Alasdair Gray was one of Scotland’s literary giants, and a decent, principled human being.
“He’ll be remembered best for the masterpiece that is Lanark, but everything he wrote reflected his brilliance. Today, we mourn the loss of a genius, and think of his family.”
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.”
Trainspotting author and fellow Scot Irvine Welsh tweeted: “Alasdair Gray was a unique talent. In Lanark, and 1982 Janine especially, he wrote two of the greatest Scottish novels and influenced a creative generation. #RIP.”
Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli, principal of the University of Glasgow, also paid tribute.
He said: “Alasdair Gray was one of the true greats of Scottish art and literature. He was writer in residence at the University of Glasgow in the late ’70s and was always a strong and close friend of the university.
“It is with great sadness that we mark his passing, but the many works he produced, from his magnificent novel Lanark to the inspiring murals that adorn the city, ensure that his legacy will live on for many years to come.”