Rankin donates literary archive to National Library of Scotland

Rankin donates literary archive to National Library of Scotland

Ian Rankin has donated his literary archive, including correspondence with authors like J K Rowling, Iain Banks and Ruth Rendell, to the National Library of Scotland.

The bestselling crime writer has handed over around 50 boxes of documents, including his own manuscripts with handwritten annotations. It includes the original manuscript for his first Rebus novel Knots and Crosses (Orion), which was partially written at the library and includes scenes set in its corridors.

Letters with Val McDermid and Jilly Cooper alongside figures from across the political and cultural world, are also included in the donation, some of which dates back to 1972.

Rankin, who studied at the University of Edinburgh, 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 recruiting a curator to catalogue and promote the horde of material, which stretches to 21ft of shelving space.

National librarian Dr John Scally 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.”