Ian Rankin Donates Literary Archive to National Library of Scotland

By May 29, 2019News

The great Scottish crime novelist, Ian Rankin, is donating a large portion of his literary archive, which includes letters to and from the likes of  J.K. Rowling, Iain Banks and Ruth Rendell, to the National Library of Scotland. The collection comes in the form of over 50 boxes of documents, complete with original manuscripts of his own novels, featuring handwritten annotations. The collection even includes the original manuscript for his first Rebus novel Knots and Crosses, which Rankin wrote at a library.

As The Bookseller reports, the documents range as far back as early as 1972 and include correspondence from authors such as Val McDermid and Jilly Cooper, as well notable figures from the worlds of politics and culture. As a former student of the University of Edinburgh, Rankin said: “I remember that in my first week as a postgraduate student we were given a tour of the National Library of Scotland, including access to the basement levels. Those vaulted underground corridors would reappear in the climactic scenes of my first Rebus novel.

“The library has seemed like a friend ever since, so it seems fitting, as well as a thrill and an honour, that my archive should find a permanent home there.”

The library is now looking for curators to go through and catalogue the vast horde of documents, which takes up a whopping 21ft in shelf space. Dr John Scally, national librarian, said:

“Rankin is a well-known face to us here at the National Library. We knew him when he was researching Muriel Spark as part of his PhD, and we knew him when he penned his first novels here in our very reading rooms. Little did we know then just how successful he was to become, and that in time, his archive would be as gratefully received as Spark’s. It will be preserved into perpetuity alongside other Scottish literary giants.

“Rankin’s main protagonist, John Rebus, has walked George IV Bridge many times, and frequently visited this very Library while researching cases. We are honoured to be a character in the Rebus novels alongside the city of Edinburgh, and we feel this is the rightful home for Ian’s archive. Because of his generosity, readers will be able to gain insight into the creative process of this wonderful writer.”

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