A haphazard record of experience, feeling and thought . . .

 Film about Willie at the Glasgow Film Festival                       Posted 27th Jan 2015

Tickets for Connect Film's William McIlvanney: Living with Words are now on sale on the Glasgow Film Festival website. The film includes contributions from Hugh McIlvanney, Ian Rankin and David Hayman. It is screening at 6pm on Monday 23rd February and there will be a Q&A with Willie afterwards. Info and tickets here.
 Willie receives UWS Honorary Doctorate                       Posted 9th December 2014
Willie is pictured above with Ian Welsh who is Chair of University Court, Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Alliance Scotland and long-standing curry adviser to Neil McIlvanney (Order of the Taj). To read about it click here.

 The Jury Room  (Week 11)                                                                             Posted 27th July 2014

A corner of the pull-out table or...        From The Herald : Sat 23-May-1998

            A Little Room of One's Own

It is seminar night in The Jury Room.     It is probably always seminar night in The Jury Room but this night the seminar is taking a more official form. It is the turn of O.U.Wilson's wife, Samantha Very Sapiens, to choose the bar where she and her Open University friends will have their meeting. She has chosen as usual the snug of the hotel.

These nights always come in two parts. After a concentrated, academic session in the snug, they spill out into The Jury Room for a more relaxed, free-association discussion. But it is never all that relaxed, not unless you regard Wittgenstein, Roland Barthes and Nietzsche as fun company. (To read on click here.)



 At the Bar                                                                                                         Short Story  

The pub was quiet. When the big man with the ill-fitting suit came in, the barman noticed him more than he normally would have done. The suit was slightly out of fashion yet looked quite new and it was too big for him. He could have come back to it after a long illness. Yet it wasn't that either. Whatever had happened to him had tightened him but not diminished him. The char­coal grey cloth sat on him loosely but that looked like the suit's problem. You wouldn't have fancied whoever the suit might fit to come against the man who wore it.

He came up to the bar and seemed uncertain about what to order. He looked along the gantry with a bemused innocence, like a small boy in a sweet-shop.

`Sir?' the barman said.

The big man sighed and shook his head and took his time. His face looked as if it had just come off a whetstone. The cheek-bones were sharp, the mouth was taut. The eyes were preoccupied with their own thoughts. His pallor suggested a plant kept out of the light. Prison, the barman thought. (To read on click here.)


This website features writing by award-winning author and journalist William McIlvanney. One or two new Dispatches will be posted regularly and will be archived on this site. A lot of the writing featured here is new and unpublished, although extracts from Willie's existing body of work - journalism, essays and short stories - will also be included. All writing -
William McIlvanney.
Click here for the latest Dispatches updates









To read Doug Johnstone on William McIlvanney click here.
Willie and his website are featured on page 3 of S on S. Click here.

To read Susan Mansfield's article on William McIlvanney click here.

To read Allan Massie on William McIlvanney click here.


To read Hugh Macdonald on William McIlvanney click here.



At the Haye Festival on Sunday June 2nd 2013, Irvine Welsh interviewed William McIlvanney. Check it out here. After one particularly dark question about the socio-economic conditions in eighties Scotland, Irvine lifted the mood with: "Anybody got a question about puppies, bunnies & kittens?" Love it! And what an infectious laugh!
 As Bloody Scotland 2014 approaches we look back on last year's event
 Report on Willie at  Bloody  Scotland 2013
 Len Wanner’s introduction to the man  himself was fulsome and considered.  Comments such as … created an  archetype with an all access pass …  seen as the source for tartan noir  …the genre debt to him is remarkable.

 When Len paused for a response,  Willie joked he should now leave, that  anything else would be an anti-climax.
 Len’s first question, almost inevitably  – because it’s what I wanted to know,  was why did he turn to crime?

 After writing his critically acclaimed  novel, Docherty, Willie felt what he  described as contemporary  starvation. He want to connect with  his peers and on further deliberation  he said he heard a voice. This voice in  his head was abrasive … it was  clearly Scottish and he deliberately  made him a policeman because he  wanted him to deal with the bad stuff  in society.

 He went on to say that he was more  than pleasantly surprised with the  impact.

 He argued that he shouldn’t take sole  credit for beginning a genre. What he  experienced was a hunger for  contemporary life and Laidlaw gave  him a vehicle for re-connecting.
 To read more of Michael Malone's  report click here.
 The Laidlaw Trilogy
 When they were first published, they  won Silver Dagger awards and were  nominated for Edgars. With Canongate  Publishing due to re-launch the Laidlaw  novels, starting  in May 2013, We  feature  extracts from the novels,  selected and  introduced by Willie, as  well as a few interesting extras.
Sean Connery
 "Any attempt to understand such a life  can’t seek to be definitive.  What it can  possibly do is like archaeology , sink  some speculative shafts into those  times and, from what it finds, elicit  some impression of the nature of the  person, arrive perhaps at the salient  features of the life...".
 "I'm on a late-night train leaving Central  Station. I have the compartment to  myself until the train begins to pull out. I  can hear the scuffling sounds in the  corridor outside that announce the man  with drink taken who has just made it.  Experience tells me he will soon be my  travelling companion. He soon is....".
TV-ing it...
 "At one stage, being even shorter of  money than usual, I agreed to do a TV  column for the Glasgow Herald. I  enjoyed it but, finding I did virtually no  other writing during that time, I soon  gave it up. A few samples may give a  flavour of that phase, round about 1979  - 1980, I think."
What other people say about William McIlvanney

While putting this site together for Willie, I decided to add some quotes of what people have said about him and his work over the years. Being a modest elder statesman, Willie was less than enthusiastic about the idea. However, despite Willie's objections, I have gone ahead and included the quotes anyway. They make interesting reading.
Neil McIlvanney

‘This is a man temperamentally incapable of writing bad prose’ – Jan Bell

‘Illuminating and thought-provoking’ – Irvine Welsh

‘Delightfully funny’ - Sunday Telegraph

‘On almost every page it offers matter for reflection’ – Scotsman

‘A natural of the transfixing phrase’ – Sunday Times

‘Fiercely evocative and witty with it’ – Literary Review

‘Inspiring and harshly funny’ – David Hughes

‘Brilliant’ – Ken Dunion

‘McIlvanney writes with appealing grace and thoughtfulness’ – Daily Telegraph

‘Telling observation and clear, perceptive writing’ – Spectator

‘Maturely reflective and insightful’ – Rosemary Goring

‘Hilarious, moving and incredibly articulate’ – Irish Times

 ‘Beguilingly brilliant’ Sunday Times
William McIlvanney: Living with Words

Known as the ‘Godfather of Tartan Noir’, William McIlvanney has enjoyed a career resurgence in recent years. Landmark novels like Laidlaw have returned to print and earned him a new generation of admirers whilst Docherty was recently voted one of the top ten Scottish novels of all time. Living with Words, produced by Gill Parry, offers an intimate portrait of McIlvanney in his own words and those of family and colleagues, including his brother, celebrated sports writer Hugh McIlvanney . A welcome profile of a writer whose passionate sense of Scotland and socialist ideals have made him inspirational.

Connectfilm Ltd.

Director: Maurice O’Brien
Cast: William McIlvanney, Hugh          McIlvanney, David          Hayman, Ian Rankin
Year: 2014
Running Time: 30m
Country: UK
  e-mail: william.mcilvanney@personaldispatches.com