Funeral of William McIlvanney held in Glasgow

The funeral of William McIlvanney was held at the University of Glasgow Memorial Chapel. Picture: John Devlin

The funeral of William McIlvanney was held at the University of Glasgow Memorial Chapel. Picture: John Devlin

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AUTHORS, actors and politicians attended a private funeral service yesterday for the celebrated Scots novelist William McIlvanney, known as the “Godfather of Tartan Noir” who died last week aged 79.

Former prime minister Gordon Brown and actor David Hayman were among around 300 people who joined family of the author at a private service to remember him at the University of Glasgow.

The funeral of Scottish novelist William McIlvanney was held at his alma mater, Glasgow University. Picture: John Devlin

The funeral of Scottish novelist William McIlvanney was held at his alma mater, Glasgow University. Picture: John Devlin

Rebus creator Ian Rankin said after the funeral that William McIlvanney will “be alive in the hearts of readers for generations to come”.

The author of the Laidlaw trilogy and numerous other Glasgow-based works such as Docherty, The Big Man and The Kiln died at his home in the city on December 5.

He was also an influential poet, journalist and broadcaster, and contributed to political and sporting life in Scotland through a series of columns and TV programmes.

READ MORE - Five of the best William McIlvanney novels

Crime writer Ian Rankin was in attendence. Picture: John Devlin

Crime writer Ian Rankin was in attendence. Picture: John Devlin

The funeral opened with a Lament played by fiddler Aly Bain while Leonard Cohen’s Anthem and Auld Lang Syne were also performed during the service.

Readings and tributes were paid throughout from people including Mr McIlvanney’s brother Hugh, a renowned journalist, and his son Liam, also a crime novelist.

One of Mr McIlvanney’s poems was printed in the order of service and his daughter Siobhan read Because I Could Not Stop For Death by Emily Dickinson.

Mr McIlvanney, originally from Kilmarnock, East Ayrshire, graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1960 and became an English teacher before changing career in 1975 to write full-time.

He gained immediate recognition with the publication of his first novel - Remedy Is None - and through other works he earned the title of “Godfather of Tartan Noir”.

He went on to win a number of awards, including the Whitbread Prize and the Crime Writers’ Association’s Silver Dagger.

Rab C Nesbitt actor Roper was a friend of the writer and said the service was “incredibly moving”.

READ MORE - Obituary: William McIlvanney, teacher and novelist

Speaking outside the university chapel, he said: “Someone came away with a wonderful line and said he remained young - how wonderful to die young at the age of 79.

“I thought that was just a fantastic thing to say, he would have been really, really proud of what happened there today. He was a great man to know.

“The other thing about Willie is that he was unbelievably good-looking, I always told him he should chuck the writing and make it his second thing.

“He was like Clarke Gable and Pierce Brosnan all stuck into one, and I don’t think he was aware of it.”

A memorial service in celebration of Mr McIlvanney’s life will be held at the university on April 2 next year.

A spokeswoman for the university said: “Everyone at the University of Glasgow is deeply saddened by the loss of our distinguished alumnus William McIlvanney.

READ MORE - William McIlvanney: The father of tartan noir

“He was a true literary great and respected by many, and it is a privilege for the university to be able to host his funeral service. We are pleased to offer our support to his family at this sad time.”

His work inspired a generation of writers, including Rankin, who paid tribute to him after the funeral.

He said: “It’s lovely when you have a family who are so literate.

“They all made fantastic speeches, personal speeches - there was a lot of humour, a lot of tears in between and some beautiful music.

“He wrote in such a varied manner; his journalism was fantastic, his essays are fantastic, he wrote great poetry, great short stories, literary novels, great crime fiction, so how do you assess all that?

“At this stage we’re assessing the man and what he has is a fantastic family who say that his books are his legacy.

“As long as the books are there he’s still alive and he’ll be alive in the hearts of readers for generations to come.”

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