Ian Rankin’s archive will be on display at the National Library of Scotland

A SELECTION of items from the literary archives of famous crime writer Ian Rankin will soon be on display at the National Library of Scotland.

The author of the Inspector Rebus series donated his archive to the Library in 2019 and also paid a post to catalog the collection.

Since then, the library has made most of the archives available for viewing in the reading rooms, and the upcoming Collections in Focus exhibition will highlight what awaits those looking to delve into the archives.

Manuscript curator Dr Colin McIlroy said: “For over 30 years, Detective Inspector Rebus and other major recurring characters have captured the minds of millions around the world.

Ian Rankin donated his literary archive to the National Library of Scotland in 2019. (C) Neil Hanna Photography

“Rankin enjoys a loyal following of people who love his version of Edinburgh.

“The sense of place he created runs deep – anecdotally we know that many readers feel they have an intimate knowledge of the city without ever having been there.

“The world of Rebus and other characters originated in the library’s reading rooms, and it is all the more fitting – and thrilling – that records chronicling decades of this writer’s thought processes are back to the library.

“We look forward to sharing some of the highlights on display.”

The archives themselves are important – in terms of library shelving, they are equivalent to 21 feet of archival material.

Besides drafts of his novels, the archive also contains Rankin’s correspondence with other writers and correspondence with police officers.

The archives also contain clues to what Rankin might have been listening to while working on a particular novel, or what societal conundrum he was trying to understand at the time.

But overall, the archives offer a deep insight into a novelist’s working mind, from the beginning of his career to his peak.

Dr McIlroy adds: “It contains what people usually expect – drafts of novels with handwritten notes to help guide the next draft.

“But it also includes the unexpected, such as very critical self-critical notes. We are truly grateful to Ian for including this often personal material.

“Emerging writers should take note and comfort that – even for successful authors – the writing process invariably involves some degree of internal struggle and self-criticism.

“But from there, it forces a writer to push themselves further. As far as Rankin is concerned, the results speak for themselves.

The Rankin Files opens Friday October 14 and runs until April 29, 2023, at the National Library of Scotland, George IV Bridge, Edinburgh.

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