Scotland

Crime author William McIlvanney dies aged 79

William McIlvanney

Tributes have been paid to novelist William McIlvanney, who has died aged 79.

The author of the acclaimed 1977 Glasgow detective novel Laidlaw had been ill for a short time.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: "Shedding a tear at news of Willie McIlvanney's death. His writing meant so much to me when I was growing up. RIP."

McIlvanney is survived by his partner Siobhan, daughter Siobhan and son Liam.

Rebus author Ian Rankin described his death as "dreadful news".

He said: "A truly inspired and inspiring author and an absolute gent."

Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh said: "Absolutely gutted to hear this. An inspirational writer and one of the loveliest guys you could hope to meet."

McIlvanney, described as The Godfather of Tartan Noir, was born in Kilmarnock and was the most-celebrated Scottish novelist of the 1970s.

Image caption William McIlvanney with his elder brother, sports writer Hugh
Image caption William McIlvanney spent many years as a teacher in Ayrshire

His 1975 novel Docherty brought him widespread acclaim before Laidlaw was hailed for changing the face of crime fiction.

His older brother, renowned sports writer Hugh McIlvanney, has previously said William's writing always represented the voice and experience of ordinary folk but also their "great intelligence" and "vivid expression".

"If you were in a pub in Kilmarnock, evidence of intelligence or a capacity to use words properly actually meant more than being hard," he said.

"They had a lot of respect for hard men but they had even more respect for the word."

'Working class voice'

William McIlvanney went to Glasgow University in 1955 and left in 1959 "transformed" and with a desire to be a writer.

However, he spent most of the next two decades as a teacher at an Ayrshire high school before he pursued writing full-time.

His first novel Remedy is None came out in 1966 but it was Docherty, in 1975, which brought him into the limelight.

It earned him praise as "the authentic voice of the Scottish working class".

McIvanney once said: "I remember an old ex-miner shaking my hand and crying and saying 'you've written my story, son'."

More on this story