Alasdair Gray, the beloved author and artist, has died
Canongate is deeply saddened to announce the death of Alasdair Gray, aged 85. He passed away peacefully earlier today at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in his native Glasgow, in the presence of family.
His family would like to share this 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.”
Alasdair’s portaits of Morag and Dan Lynch and a piece which appeared in the Lennox Herald. Pictures by Bill Heaney
And from his agent, Jenny Brown: “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, Alasdair 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 thirty further 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.
Bill Heaney, editor of The Dumbarton Democrat, said: “Alasdair had many connections with Dumbarton. With his second wife, Morag Nimmo, and he were before her death involved in a campaign to save Knowetop Community Farm in Castlehill from local authority cutback.
“This is the council estate where Dumbarton Academy FP Morag, a librarian and crossword compiler was brought up.
“To say he was a great man does not do Alasdair justice. It was always a pleasure to be in his company in the Glasgow University Staff Club and elsewhere with friends such as Dan Lynch, whose portrait was one of many he painted on Dan being appointed a Justice of the Peace.
“He encouraged Balloch woman, Agnes Owen, to become an author and campaigner for equal rights for women. And he illustrated her books.
“Alasdair was an exceptional writer and artist, possibly the best of the Byres Road books brigade. We were all dismayed to learn of the cruel accident, which took his mobility away.
“Alasdair will be sorely missed. I hope there will be a memorial service to mark the fact that we had a genius living amongst us, and very much with us for so long.”