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Alasdair Gray

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Alasdair Gray
BornAlasdair Gray
28 December 1934(1934-12-28)
Glesga, Scotland
Dee'd29 December 2019 (aged 85)
Glesga, Scotland
ThriftNovelist, airtist, playwricht, academic, teacher, poet
GenreScience feection, dystopianism, surrealism, realism
Leeterar muivementPostmodren leeteratur
Notable warksLanark: A Life in Four Books
1982, Janine
Poor Things
The Book of Prefaces

Alasdair Gray (28 December 1934 – 29 December 2019) wis a Scots writer an airtist that wis born in Glesga. His first novel, Lanark, wis setten furth in 1981, an teuk near 30 year tae fienish.[1] The Guardian sayed the beuk wis "a important bit 20t centurie fiction."[2] He bade in Glesga for maist o his life, merrit twice, an haed ae son.

Earlie life

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Alasdair Gray wis born in Riddrie in the north-east o Glesga on the 28 December 1934.[3] His sister Mora wis born twa year efterhaund. Gray wis evacuatit tae Auchterairder in Perthshire an Stanehoose in Lanrikshire wi his maw an sister in the Seicont Warld War.[4] Gray an his faimilie bade in Wetherby in Yorkshire frae 1942 til 1945, seein as his faither wis rinnin a hostel for fowk wirkin til ROF Thorp Arch, a airms warks.[3][4]

Efter the war wis throu, Gray bade in a schame in Riddrie an got his schuilin at Whitehill Hie-schuil, whaur he wis editor o the schuil magazine an wan prizes for Airt an English.[3][5] Gray aften gaed til the public librar. He haed a rare teir readin Winnie-the-Pooh an comics the likes o The Beano an The Dandy.[6]

Gray gaed til the Glesga Schuil o Airt frae 1952 til 1957 for tae lairn design an mural pentin. He stairtit writin whit wad come tae be Lanark whan he wis a airt scholar. The first beuk wis fienisht in 1963, an Gray pat it til the Curtis Brown Literacy Agency, tho the publisher turnt it doun.[4]

Personal life

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Gray mairit a Dens nierish, Inge Sørensen, in 1961. The twa o thaim haed a son, Andrew, in 1963. Gray an Sørensen divertit in 1969.[7][8] He wis in a relatoinship wi Bethsy Gray, a Dens jeweller, for aicht year afore it endit ower the heid o Alasdair drinkin a lot o bouse, tho thay wis freends efter splittin up.[9] Alisdair wis mairit on Morag McAlpine frae 1991 til she dee'd in 2014 efter haein a illness for a wee.[7][10] Alisdair bade in Glesga for aa o his adult life.

Visual airt

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Efter feenishin airt schuil, Gray pentit theatrical scenery for the Glesga Pavilion and Citizens Theatres, and wrocht as a freelance airtist.[3][11] His first mural wis "Horrors o War" for the Scottish-USSR Freendship Associe in Glesga.[12] In 1964 the BBC made a documentary film, Unner the Helmet, aboot his career tae date.[13] A lot o his murals haes been lost; survivin examples includes ane in the Ubiquitous Chip restaurant in the Wast End o Glesga, and anither ane at Hillheid subwey station.[14] His ceiling mural (in collaboration wi Nichol Wheatley) for the auditorium o the Òran Mór venue on Byres Road is ane o the lairgest warks o airt in Scotland an wis pentit ower several years.[15] It shaws Aidam and Eve embracin agin a nicht sky, wi modren fowk frae Glesga in the foregrund.[16]

In 1977–1978, Gray wrocht tae the People's Palace museum, as Glesga's "airtist recorder", funded by a scheme set up by the Labour government. He produced hunders o drawing o the city, includin portraits o poleeticians, fowk in the airts, members o the general public and warkplaces wi wirkers. Thay are nou in the collection at Kelvingrove Airt Gallery and Museum.

His pentins and prents is held in the Kelvingrove, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the National Librar o Scotland, the Hunterian Museum, the Airts Cooncil o England collection, and the Viktor Wynd Museum o Curiosities, Fine Airt & Natural History. In 2014–2015 Gray haed a major retrospective at the Kelvingrove;[17] ower 15,000 fowk veesitit the exhibeetion, that wis cawed Alasdair Gray: Frae The Personal Tae The Universal.[3] His first solo exhibeetion in Lunnon teuk place in late 2017 at the Coningsby Gallery in Fitzrovia and the Leyden Gallery in Spitalfields.[18]

Gray said that he fand writin tirin, but that pentin gied him energy.[16] His visual art aften uised local or personal details tae encompass international or universal truths and themes.[19]

Gray's beuks is maistly set in Glesga an ither pairts o Scotland. His wark helpit strenthen an deepen the upbiggin o Glesga's literar scene awa frae gang fiction, while haudin awa frae neoliberal gentrification.[20] A lot o fowk ruised his first novel, Lanark, whan it cam oot in 1981, an syne cam tae be his best-kent wark.[7] It haes been compared tae the likes o Franz Kafka's wark, an George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four for feelin o bureaucratic threit, an tae Jorge Luis Borges & Italo Calvino for its fabulism. It inspired a new generation o Scots writers, the likes o Irvine Welsh, Alan Warner, A. L. Kennedy, Janice Galloway an Iain Banks, an haes been cryed ane o the kenmerks o 20t century fiction, tho Gray didna get muckle siller frae it.[7]

Polietical views

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Gray wis a Scots nationalist an republican. He made the epigram "Wirk like ye bide in the early days o a better nation" (frae a poem by Canadian makar Dennis Lee) popular, an it wis cairved on the Canongate Waa o the Scots Pairlament Biggin whan it opened in 2004.

Later life

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In 2008, ane o Gray's former students that's a secretrar an aa, Rodge Glass, pat oot a biography o Gray, caaed Alasdair Gray: A Secretary's Biography.[9] The beuk wan the Somerset Maugham Award in 2009.[21] Gray's autobiography Of Me & Others wis released in 2014.[22]

Gray wis hurt rael bad in a faa in Juin 2015, an this gart him need a wheelchair.[23] He keepit writin; the first twa pairts o his translate o Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy trilogy wis pitten oot in 2018 an 2019.[24] He dee'd on the 29 December 2019 in The Soothren General in the Soothside o Glesga, the day efter he turnt 85. He gied his bouk tae science an thare wis nae funeral.[25]

Some warks

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  • Lanark (1981)
  • 1982, Janine (1984)
  • The Fall of Kevin Walker (1985)
  • Something Leather (1990)
  • McGrotty and Ludmilla (1990)
  • Poor Things (1992)
  • A History Maker (1994)
  • Mavis Belfrage (1996)
  • Old Men In Love (2007)

Cuttie stories

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  • Unlikely Stories, Mostly (1983)
  • Lean Tales (1985)
  • Ten Tales Tall & True (1993)
  • The Ends of Our Tethers: 13 Sorry Stories (2005)
  • Every Short Story by Alasdair Gray 1951-2012 (2012)


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  • A Gray Play Book (2009)
  • Fleck (2011)


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  1. "Lanark by Alasdair Gray". www.gla.ac.uk (in Inglis). Retrieved 19 Mey 2021.
  2. Staff, Guardian (22 Julie 2008). "Alasdair Gray". the Guardian (in Inglis). Retrieved 19 Mey 2021.
  3. a b c d e "Alasdair Gray's creative talents spanned the arts". belfasttelegraph (in Inglis). ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 19 Mey 2021.
  4. a b c "Gray's Abbreviated Curriculum Vitae". Alisdair Gray. Archived frae the original on 19 Mey 2021. Retrieved 19 Mey 2021.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  5. "BBC Two - Writing Scotland - Alasdair Gray". BBC (in Inglis). Retrieved 19 Mey 2021.
  6. "Alasdair Gray explains how his love of fable never left him as he grew up". www.scotsman.com (in Inglis). Retrieved 19 Mey 2021.
  7. a b c d "Alasdair Gray obituary". the Guardian (in Inglis). 29 December 2019. Retrieved 19 Mey 2021.
  8. "Alasdair Gray | Poet". Scottish Poetry Library (in Inglis). Retrieved 19 Mey 2021.
  9. a b Sansom, Ian (19 September 2008). "Review: Alasdair Gray by Rodge Glass". the Guardian (in Inglis). Retrieved 19 Mey 2021.
  10. "Private funeral for wife of author Gray". HeraldScotland (in Inglis). Retrieved 19 Mey 2021.
  11. "Alasdair (James) Gray Biography - Alasdair Gray comments:". biography.jrank.org (in Inglis). Retrieved 3 December 2021.
  12. "Obituary: Alasdair Gray, writer and artist". HeraldScotland (in Inglis). Retrieved 3 December 2021.
  13. "BBC Arts - BBC Arts - Alasdair Gray at 80: Under the Helmet". BBC (in Inglis). Retrieved 3 December 2021.
  14. Nast, Condé (26 August 2015). "How Alasdair Gray Reimagined Glasgow". The New Yorker (in Inglis). Retrieved 3 December 2021.
  15. "Gray's anatomy of the bigger picture". HeraldScotland (in Inglis). Retrieved 3 December 2021.
  16. a b rodgeglassauthor (28 Juin 2018). "Introduction to Alasdair Gray Exhibition 'Paintings, Drawings & Notebooks' at the Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, London, June 2018-January 2019". Rodge Glass (in Inglis). Archived frae the original on 3 December 2021. Retrieved 3 December 2021.
  17. "Kelvingrove Museum hosts major Alasdair Gray exhibition". BBC News (in Inglis). 10 October 2014. Retrieved 3 December 2021.
  18. "Alasdair Gray set for first London exhibition". BBC News (in Inglis). Retrieved 3 December 2021.
  19. "From the Personal to the Universal - Alasdair Gray's Visual Art". From the Personal to the Universal - Alasdair Gray's Visual Art. Retrieved 3 December 2021.
  20. Nast, Condé (26 August 2015). "How Alasdair Gray Reimagined Glasgow". The New Yorker (in Inglis). Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  21. "Alasdair Gray by Rodge Glass | Book review". the Guardian (in Inglis). 25 September 2009. Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  22. "An interview with Alasdair Gray | Books Interview | The Skinny". www.theskinny.co.uk (in Inglis). Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  23. "Alasdair Gray seriously injured in fall". the Guardian (in Inglis). 18 Juin 2015. Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  24. "'No stuffy old classic': Alasdair Gray's translation of Dante's Purgatory". HeraldScotland (in Inglis). Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  25. "Alasdair Gray, the beloved author and artist, has died". canongate.co.uk (in Inglis). Retrieved 19 Mey 2021.