Alasdair Gray's last literary archive joins 'Poor Things' manuscript in National Library of Scotland collection
The last literary archive of the celebrated Scottish writer and artist Alasdair Gray has been secured for the nation.
A new treasure trove of manuscripts, notebooks, storyboards, designs and drawings has been acquired by the National Library of Scotland. It has been working with his son Andrew following the death of Gray just over four years ago at the age of 85.
The Glasgow School of Art graduate was one of the most significant cultural figures in the city thanks to his novels, visual art and work for theatre, film and television.
He had previously worked with the National Library to secure the future of his archives, including his original artwork for Lanark, Unlikely Stories, Lean Tales, Mostly, and 1982, Janine.
The library also holds the original manuscript for his 1992 novel Poor Things and early screenplay drafts for an adaptation, which has only just been made into an acclaimed new Hollywood movie starring Emma Stone, Mark Ruffalo and Willem Dafoe.
The National Library recently launched a new appeal to raise money to open up public access to its archives of material kept by Gray and two other leading Scottish writers, James Kelman and George Mackay Brown.
It hopes to hire dedicated staff to sift through and catalogue the collections, most of which have never been seen by the public, to make them available for research or in future exhibitions.
Dr Colin McIlroy, manuscripts curator at the National Library, said: “Alasdair Gray is unique in that he has a loyal following in academia and people who enjoy reading more generally. His literary and artistic work is intrinsically informed by and deeply embedded in Glasgow, where – aside from a spell in Wetherby during the Second World War – he lived and worked his whole life.
“During his lifetime we had the privilege of his acquaintance, and it was clear that he lived and breathed art, as much as he lived and breathed his home city.
"We are deeply honoured to continue to care for his artistic and personal effects. Providing public access to his archive will ensure he lives on in our collective psyche – both in Scotland and internationally – for many decades to come.”
Andrew Gray said: “Through a combination of financial necessity and frequent reorganisation of his studio, Alasdair has, over the years, contributed a large quantity of correspondence, diaries and manuscripts to the National Library.
“He would be happy that his collection has remained in Scotland and that in line with his socialist principles, his papers will be accessible to the public for the purposes of research, education and amusement.”
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