Press and Media on William McIlvanney

The Herald, Scotland - April 2013  
BBC Writing Scotland

BBC Radio 4
Edinburgh International Book Festival
The Telegraph
The Herald Scotland
The Scotsman
Books from Scotland
Scottish Review of Books
Association for Scottish Literary Studies
The List


STV Off the Page - interviewed by Jenny Brown

STV In Confidence - William McIlvanney
Kay's Originals

Family Connections

Hugh McIlvanney
Liam McIlvanney

Siobhan McIlvanney  
Euan McIlvanney

About Personal Dispatches by William McIlvanney                                                                                                             
In 2013 my uncle, William McIlvanney, asked me about the possibility of setting up a website on which he could regularly post his writing - articles, features, thoughts, stories, poetry. Being a fan as well as a relative, I was excited at the prospect of reading new material by Willie as well as trying to deliver his writing to a wider audience. For many years, most of his work had been typed up by my cousin, Trish. She gave Willie some of the older pieces which were stored in the old floppy disk format to pass on to me for the website. When Willie told me that Trish had given him "a wee black square thing" I realised that he really did need my technical support with the project. Anyway, Willie set about selecting some of the pieces for inclusion and I set about creating the website with my son, Euan.

In putting together this website we tried to include a few interesting extras - mp3s of Willie reading his work, old photographs, scans of original handwritten pieces, background information on his books and his work. Later in 2016 I'll be adding some more video footage and a few other extras but, for me, the real appeal of this website is not its extra features but it's core purpose - to feature Willie's writing. Willie chose the pieces and I posted them on the site, where they have remained online and have steadily built up to form a substantial archive of Willie's work.

 Neil McIlvanney
All writing - prose and poetry - by William McIlvanney
Audio recordings of William McIlvanney by Euan McIlvanney and Neil McIlvanney.
Typing and Scans
Typing by Trish Lombardi. Text and photo scans by Neil McIlvanney.
Created by Neil McIlvanney and Euan McIlvanney. Thanks to Eric Gordon for advice and support.
Willie had a lot of interesting feedback on his work, his website, his readings and even his days as a teacher. This section was added to the site on 1st January 2014.
Sent: Monday, May 26, 2014 1.09 PM
Subject: Docherty - a thank you

Dear Mr McIlvanney,

I’m not sure that this email will ever reach you personally but I’ve always held the belief that it is more important to write than to be read.

I’ve been meaning to write to you for almost five years. It was five years ago that I first read Docherty. I have never been so profoundly affected by any other novel which I have read (perhaps this is due to having first read it in an old tenement flat in Kilmarnock). All the struggle, anguish, pain and hope resonated within me. Almost a century after the setting in the novel, I still see these characters in the town. I know these characters. I drink with these characters. The only other place that I had seen or heard our local landscape described was in the meandering stories of my paternal grandmother, who was an Altonhill resident in the 1930’s and 40’s.

Thank you for gifting this wonderful novel to the world, it has inspired me beyond the point of being able to express in writing the high regard that I hold both it and you. Thank you, for everything Mr McIlvanney.

I am constantly inspired by Docherty. I wrote a poem with Conn and Tam in mind, after a long walk home on the old Bonnyton Road. I hope its simplicity does not offend you, but I had to share it.

Yours sincerely,

KJ Kelly

Sent: Sunday, May 11, 2014 3:41 PM
Subject: Black Dog

Loved the last session at Ullapool and I would love to access Black Dog.

I couldn't see it on the website. Is it there or can it be added.
Could go on at some length but won't.

Alex Dickson at Achins Bookshop, Inverkirkaig,Lochinver.
(Britain's most remote mainland bookshop)
(as far away as one can get from the cities you love !!!!)

Sent: Sunday, 6 April 2014, 12:09
Subject: Greetings

Dear Mr McIlvanney*,

I wanted to shake your hand last and thank you for the pleasure of your company in the Mitchell Library last night. But boring things like trains and long queues won the day, and I left while the book-signing queue was still moving slowly towards you

The last time we had been in a room together, was probably in the early 70s at Irvine Royal Academy, where you were trying, and mostly succeeding, to instil a love of English, and Scots, into a mixed bunch of teenagers.

*That's why I have difficulty calling you "Willie " or similar. I well remember any cheeky comment was swiftly and dealt with in your classes! "Respect! " as they say nowadays.

Anyway, your talk struck several chords with me.  You mentioned how people sidestep the ill or bereaved; how Kilmarnock's been annihilated; how good the NHS can be when not run for profit, and how many Ayrshire folk have to move out.

I left my home town of Irvine in 1981, heading to London, Liverpool and then back to London.  Two years ago, my wife and I decided to move to the Falkland Islands.  (She is helping update the tax laws in preparation for an oil boom).  But I'm currently staying at my brother's in Dundonald while I recover from some wonderful, sight-saving,operations at Gartnavel Hospital.

So, yes, your readings and thoughts touched a chord,

You were, are, and will be, inspirational. That's not flattery. Just simple fact.

Many thanks, from a grateful pupil.

Peter Young

Sent: Thursday, 9 January 2014, 21:08
Subject: Alexander McIlvanney

Dear William,

I happened to come across a section of your book 'Remedy is None' - in particular, a section about a character called Charlie and a letter from his father who had been killed at Monte Cassino during WW2.  I hope you wouldn't mind me asking whether 'Sanny' was Alexander McIlvanney?  I'm not a relative of yours.  My father was a comrade of Alexander McIlvanney's, and was with him when he was killed.

I hope you don't mind me contacting you like this.  My father narrowly escaped being killed alongside Alexander and two other men from the same gun team.  He would often recount their names on the occasions that he spoke, very movingly, about the incident.  We visited their graves during the late 1970's.  I'd be interested to know your connection to 'Sanny'.


Neil Austin

 Monday, 13 January 2014, 12:08
Subject: 'Sanny' Mcilvanney

Dear William,

I e-mailed you a couple of days ago asking about your relationship to 'Sanny' Mcilvanney who was killed in 1944 at Monte Cassino.  Since sending my e-mail, I discovered an online copy of your article titled 'The small continents of vanished experience' (The Herald, dated 12 June 1999), which effectively answers my question.

I came across both references by googling the name 'Mcilvanney' and 'Cassino'.  I wasn't really expecting to come across anything other than a link to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission web-site, and maybe a mention of his name on a family tree or a local war memorial.  To come across a mention of him in your book was quite a shock. 

I've been aware of Sanny's name since I was a child as it is indelibly associated with my father's wartime experiences.  If you have the opportunity, I'd be interested to know a little more about him.  I also wonder whether my father might be one of the anonymous comrades captured in the photo that you describe in your book.

My father only ever referred to Sanny simply as 'Mcilvanney'.  I can't remember his exact words, but he created an impression of him as being a rough-tough labourer from Glasgow (or thereabouts) who liked a drink, who was a heavy smoker, and who was considerably older than the other men on the gun team (The Commonwealth War Graves Commission records his age as being 36 which I guess would have been a world apart from a group of men in their early 20's).  He had at least one tattoo on his arm and I got the impression (although this may simply be my own projection) that he had a broken nose and dark slicked-back hair.  Maybe it was simply my father's musings, but I remember him dwelling on the thought of several children being left fatherless, so I assume that Sanny was married.  I also imagined him living in a tenement, much like the one that my grandmother and aunt lived in.

The circumstances of Sanny's death, as described by my father, were different to the version that appears to have reached your family.  I can't explain why the accounts should differ.  Perhaps it's simply down to 'the fog of war'.  My father was a pretty sober character, and I never got the impression that he was prone to embellishing his wartime experiences, largely because he never really spoke about them, and also because I never got the impression that he was anything other than a reliable witness to other events in our lives.  I can't ask him for clarification as he died almost 30 years ago (almost exactly 40 years to the day after Sanny and the others were killed).  I can tell you what he told me, in case you're interested.

Kind Regards,

Neil Austin  

Sent: Saturday, 21 December 2013, 14:10
Subject: Message from Andy Gourley

Dear Willie/sir,

I apologise for the rather odd salutation.  "Willie" is what I would prefer to use but old habits die hard and, even at the venerable age of 61, this former pupil of yours at Irvine Royal Academy feels that a certain deference is appropriate.  Hence the equivocation.  It has been some time since we last spoke (some 20 years ago in Kilmarnock High Street) but I happened on a Youtube interview you gave to a rather unimaginative journalist and wanted to write to you.  Despite the interviewer's shortcomings it was clear to me that you remain unchanged from the man who was my English teacher all those years ago.  The uplift that this simple observation evoked is essentially what I want to explain to you.

I have recently retired from the world of work, have reassessed my life, and have started to practise as a qualified hypnotherapist.  You may think that this is a rather effete occupation (more a passtime perhaps) but I have faith in hypnotherapy as a therapeutic device.  This is something I had wanted to do for many years but the inconveniences of life and family obligations dictated otherwise.  This work now brings me more fulfilment than anything I did previously because I have the opportunity to help other people correct some of the erroneous conditioning that their childhood imposed on them.  My clients leave my consulting room happier, more confident, and with enhanced defences against the absurdities of modern life (your piece on Shakespeare alludes to them perfectly) and this gives me no end of satisfaction.

Anyway, subconscious conditining being due to the positive and negative influences on you in childhood, I have had the opportunity recently to reflect on those who influenced me.  Of course, my parents topped the list as you might expect and, as you might also expect, I can now differentiate between the constructive and damaging attitudes, beliefs and behaviours that they imprinted on my developing mind.  But who were the others?  Well, hard though I've tried, I can only think of three individuals (one of whom you may remember, one that you certainly won't know, and another that you know intimately) that had any meaningful impact on my development.

The first was Mrs McGill, my French teacher in my first few years at Irvine Royal.  If you remember her you'll know that she wasn't a Sophia Loren or, even in your baser linguistic currency, a Geri Halliwell. Despite this, her smile could eclipse her face and her brown gallic eyes radiated (on rare occasions) a warmth that belied her austere presentation and gave an insight into her private self.  I never knew the real Mrs. McGill but she inspired me with a passion for French culture and language (now equally as debased as our own) and Charlemagne's promise that, "to have another language is to have second soul".  Mrs. McGill opened the veil on a language that has enriched my life through Jacques Brel, Georges Brassens, Boris Vian, Jacques Prevert and other cultural icons of the last century.  She couldn't have known this, of course, and I didn't either - but I'm very grateful to her for the subliminal influence she exerted.

The second was Bobby Brownlie, a guy who used to drink in the Victoria Bar, High Blantyre.  Bobby earned his living painting white and yellow lines on the roads but he was a man who had missed his vocation - but didn't miss it.  Not super-hero material you might think, but Bobby was a peerless philosopher in my eyes; a sage.  Articulate, composed, reasonable, informed, generous of spirit, contented, witty and good fun, Bobby was as kindly and well-meaning a man as you could ever be privileged to meet.  Bobby simply confirmed what I already knew; that good people are accidents of nature and nurture rather than products of any class or God.  I lost touch with Bobby in 1973 when I decamped to London but think of him still and try to follow his example on how to respect and treat others.

Thirdly, there was you. I'm conscious of the fact that, throughout my life, I have always been synthesising; distilling what I see, read and hear into essence, reducing bulk through redaction into meaning.  This isn't always a popular thing to do and it has caused me to be, on occasions, a more challenging companion/colleague/parent than modern social mores would deem ideal.  I found that I could never settle on vagueness, ambiguity, or opinion without justification, and, when I saw your interview and read some of the articles on your dispatches website, I could at last retrace the estuary of my tendency to its probable source. The French categorise understanding into the "savoir" (knowledge), the "savoir faire" (knowing how to do), and the "savoir etre" (knowing how to be).  At school we were taught a fair bit about the first two but precious little about the last.  The exception was you - and the frustrations you expressed in your interview about the lack of a meaningful relationship between most teachers and their pupils hit a chord with me immediately.  That was your skill; to convey more than facts, to spark imaginations to query and investigate, to search for meaning and to express it.  You started a process in me that has been irreversible and I am a better person (in my eyes at least) for having looked at life through a lens that magnified as much the viewer as the subject matter being viewed.  In short, you provided the model of a better man than I would otherwise have been and, even if I have fallen short of my own aspirations on occasions, it's surely better to aim too high and miss a target than to aim too low and hit it. 

You have secured for yourself a legacy in Scottish literary culture that will prove enduring.  You richly deserve it.  However, when you weigh your achievements, please don't forget to add to credit side of the balance the positive influence you had on impressionable youngsters.  I felt this impulse to write it down and tell you but, for every one of me, there must be hundreds who can attribute at least some of their life's success, and their way of being, to your example.  Legacy is what is left behind even if it isn't always apparent, tangible, or easily accessible. The truth is that no critic or librarian will ever be able to fully quantify, classify, archive, or evaluate your life's work but, whatever they conclude, others who knew you could add to it significantly from their personal recollections.

With kindest regards and every best wish for your future success and happiness,

Andy Gourley
Sent: Tuesday, 10 December 2013, 13:25
Subject: [William McIlvanney] New message from Will Templeton

Hello William,

I recently discovered, and immensely enjoyed, your Laidlaw novels, having read the whole Rankin oeuvre, and I am looking forward to exploring your other works.

Like you, I was born in Killie (Dec. 1933), and as a child lived in a Riccarton council flat in Witchknowe Road. You and I might have rubbed shoulders at the Academy, had my family not moved to Troon in 1938, where I attended Marr College and later GU, studying chemistry.

Lang may your lum reek!

William Templeton.
Sent: Saturday, 7 December 2013, 22:34
Subject: Hysteria in all the wrong places

Dear Mr.McIlvanney....I just can't write "Willie'" though that is how I remember you from Kilmarnock Academy.

I did have to write though as a fellow sufferer from, what I only just learned, is Hysterical Philistinism. It has attacked me many times over the years and I believed,  till today,  I was the only person ever to have contracted this disease. You have given me a new lease on life (at 76) and lifted me out of the total doldrums of a bleak day in the Tennessee foothills.

Your post of November 30th,fittingly on St. Andrew's day since he was crucified in a way which would have sent our hysteria to a new height, was a beautiful release for me. 

My husband died two years ago and I was lucky to have all four of my children with me,along with our very young minister from the local Presbyterian church. My husband passed away peacefully and the minister was wonderful but my children and I were all bent over laughing at some of the things we remembered our dear husband and father saying and doing to the chagrin of almost everyone else around. It is a nervous reaction to traumatic events but it is DEFINITELY Philistine in origin. 

Thank you for your wonderful writings and the view of life which allows for laughter in times which, after all, are tragic.

Have a blessed Christmas ,as they say in Tennessee and a Guid New Year 

Your devoted hysterical friend,

Sheila Pollock
Sent: Monday, 18 November 2013, 18:31
Subject: Thank you for talk in Kilmarnock, Sat, 16th Nov

Hello William McIlvanney,

I’m writing to thank you for a great evening, ‘A Celebration of Laidlaw’, at the Burns Monument Centre in Kilmarnock on Saturday, 16th November, and the wee chat afterwards. 

I was the one who said I was reading, again, my old, battered copy of Laidlaw. It was lovely to have the chance to talk to you. 

I’ve been exploring your website for the last half hour instead of working. I must get back to writing my novel now. Incidentally I was shortlisted for the Imprint writing award. I didn’t win but I’m so chuffed. I know this is bragging but you’ll understand the kick and the desire to bounce on the roof and shout.

Thanks for being there on Saturday. Hope to see you next year.

Nancy Winchester
Sent: Tuesday, 29 October 2013, 15:09
Subject: Re: your writing sir

Dear Mr. McIlvanney, I believe I am becoming quite a nuisance, but, however I am totally bowled over by your writing. I am at present reading "Surviving the Shipwreck" ,which I had to get through a second hand book shop, so no royalties to you from that sale or all the others that I have had to buy that way, and have come across the mention of the poem "Actions in a Generic Tense". Could you put it up on your website please so that I can read it? It is all very fine buying second hand books, but finding what one wants is not easy and you don't get the royalties. Except for the Laidlaw books that I bought through Amazon, all the others have been of no advantage, monetarily, to you. I should send you a cheque! 

Sincerely, Lin Fisher.
Sent: Saturday, 26 October 2013, 8:02
Subject: Re: Thanks

Dear Mr. McIlvanney, Having, with some difficulty, tracked down and acquired your book "Surviving the Shipwreck", and read your essay "The shallowing of Scotland" part 4,I wish to thank you for elucidating the 60's for me. Being a "baby boomer" that was a formative time for me, however being a South African, it meant that there was a disjunction between us and the rest of the world, so it was difficult to understand the entirety of the movement. Therefore it had more of a political thrust here, among the whites. Nevertheless that went hand in hand with "free love" and drugs and what we heard of going on in the rest of the world was severely restricted by the governments control of the media. Your essay "All you need is love" has explained it to me. Thank you, I am so glad to have been pointed to your writings, even tho' it was thro' my husbands Spectator.

Yours sincerely, Lin Fisher.
Sent: Tuesday, 15 October 2013, 0:05
Subject: Laidlaw

Hello there.

I'm Scott Martin, a professional writer, specifically a direct response copywriter, based in Charlotte, North Carolina USA.

I spent my formative years in the U.K. and have visited Glasgow many times. I love the city. A few weeks ago, I read the first Laidlaw book and now I'm into the second…just past the point where a heavy pours a pint of heavy on someone's head. Nice!

This line, at the beginning of chapter 3, where Laidlaw is at the hospital, is perfection:

It made illness appear not a leveller but an accolade that admitted you to a Gothic aristocracy.

I'm simply writing to say how much I'm enjoying your work.



P.S. I'm not sure it's going to happen but I'm hoping that The Horseshoe Bar appears in this book or the next.

Sent: Thursday, 10 October 2013, 15:53
Subject: Culture Cafe Aberdeen

Dear Mr. McIlvanney

I attended the Culture Cafe in Aberdeen on Wednesday and wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed listening to you reading extracts from your work.  I really would have liked to ask you a question but never have the courage to speak in such a large group.  I do like your books very much but have a particular fondness for the Newspaper columns you wrote some time ago for the Scotland on Sunday.and wonder if there is any plan to publish them in book form.  Forgive me if this is already the case[remembering the woman who suggested you attempt to be published in Scandinavia].  I have kept two of the columns for many years, the one where you write about your mother and her sisters walking in the town and the impression they made on people and when you write of your mother's death.  There were so many resonances for me in the latter that part of it was used at my own mother's funeral.  You could have been writing about her when you described your mother's humanity and thoughtfulness towards others even until the last.

Being from Edinburgh I can relate to your tale of being handed a piece of paper thanking you for the book.  I'd like to add 'thank you for the columns' which I often found both moving and memorable.  In fact I've passed copies to friends so they can enjoy the powerful beauty of your writing.

I hope you manage to attend the Festival in Huntly next year, it sounds a lively place!

With good wishes

Mary Mackay

Sent: Tuesday, 8 October 2013, 18:22
Subject: Just a quick note of thanks, and an apology

Good evening Mr. McIlvanney,

Hope you don't mind me writing to you, I just wanted to tell you that I'm in the middle of reading Laidlaw, shamefully (for a voracious reader, a lover of crime fiction in particular and a Glaswegian of nearly 50 years of age), for the first time.  In fact I'm on holiday and spoiling myself by doing little but reading; have explored 7 novels so far, but am completely transfixed by yours, and that's from a list which includes the latest Ian McEwan, Simenon's 'The Widow', and 'Moby Dick'!  A tiny part of it is a nostalgia for the Glasgow of that era, the Muscular Arms, the Top Spot, that frighteningly accurate description of the Gallowgate and London Rd (which hasn't changed that much even now), but mainly it's the articulacy, the humour and the humanity. I'm reading on my Kindle and like to highlight favourite passages to look at later; however in this case it has proved impossible, as I'm highlighting everything! So will re-read the novel.

Sorry, you don't need another person to tell you what a wonderful writer you are, but I just wanted to apologise for having come to your books so late.  The silver lining is that I have them all before me now, and that's like Christmas isn't it, when you discover a writer you love and thirstily want to drink all the novels up.

Best regards, and thankyou for having written all of these books for me to discover,

Angela Slaven
Sent: Saturday, 28 September 2013, 21:20
Subject: Re: A discovery !

Dear Mr. Mcilvanney, 

I came across a review of your first "Laidlaw" book in a recent Spectator edition, and was intrigued. Although I read very little fiction, I was curious enough to look for the book on Amazon and found that it was a re-publication, so I "downloaded" it and began to read. I am not a youngster and so don't get carried away with enthusiasm easily, but I read until the end that night. I enjoyed your intelligence, your ability to evoke the reality of the city and the ability you have to describe scenes and people so that one feels that one is "in the Picture" as it were.

Consequently I have bought the other two Laidlaw books as well as your other books, from second hand booksellers through Amazon. I wish that it took longer to read through them so as to prolong the pleasure I receive from your excellent writing. 
Thank you for this, and for the consequent discovery of your son, Liam's, writing, which I could distinguish from yours only by the obviously contemporary scenaria.
Yours sincerely,
Lin Fisher (Mrs.)

Sent: Friday, 20 September 2013, 11:36
Subject: The Line to Skype (1973)

Dear William

I've been reading and occasionally teaching your fiction (I used to be in the School of English in Trinity College Dublin) ever since I started reading it at secondary school in Ayr and through studying English at Strathclyde, and I've always admired it a great deal. So I hope you don't mind me asking whether you are the William McIlvanney credited with the script of The Line to Skye (1973) [ (Preview]? If so, it's something else to admire.
many thanks


Crawford Gribben
Professor of Early Modern British History
Queen's University

Sent: Monday, 16 September 2013, 12:19
Subject: Stirling

I was at Bloody Scotland for 5 talks by different authors and you were by far the most interesting, humorous and so engaging. You have a very special talent of making your listener feel close to you and I felt privileged to share those stories. The stories about the canary and your dog were hilarious and your delivery, which is so natural, is priceless.You seem so unassuming and modest and are a real star in the true sense. I also enjoyed Lee Child and Val McDermid but you outshone them all. Lee Child and Jo Nesbo may have had bigger crowds but those who did not get to see and hear you really lost out.

I asked the question about your future intentions to write — and I look forward to reading that BIG BOOK which is still inside but bursting to be written.

I am so proud that we have such talented Scottish writers and am so happy that I had the good sense to go along and be enchanted by you.

I wish you and your family—including, dogs, cats and canaries, a healthy and happy future and once again thanks for sharing that hour with ME.

Please compliment your nephew on the website too!

Moira Bain

Sent: Sunday, 15 September 2013, 20:33
Subject: Docherty

Hi there, I saw you at the Albert Hall today, but was too shy to ask a question. Can you tell me about the female character in Docherty, where you really understand the workings of the female mind, or phsyche if you like? I read this book in 1976, when I was a young woman and couldn’t believe that any male could write like this regarding the female - that stuck with me all these years. Absolutely loved the book but can’t remember the name of the character.  When you read a book and you are sorry when it ends, you know it has been a cracking read.  Did you get help from your mother or your wife regarding the mindset of women? I must now re-read Docherty to find out the character I am talking about. Thanks, really enjoyed your talk at Stirling.


Irene Mckeown
Sent: Thursday, 15 August 2013, 12:07
Subject: Just found your website

Good Afternoon Willie

Just found your new website, very impressed. It was also lovely to see my wee Daddy staring back at me in your photo gallery.

I hope you are all well. It would be so nice to see you, maybe coming round for Dinner soon.

Take care

Sent: Monday, 5 August 2013, 14:26
Subject: your great wee website

Dear William McIlvanney,

I came across your website the other week and have enjoyed reading your dispatches and seeing that you are in great form.

I just want you to know that 25 years ago I came across your Walking Wounded short stories and ever since have gobbled up your works at least twice over. If that sounds too much then your books were one of the cornerstones( along with some good friends, beer and long chats into the night) that helped me get to the other side of tough times that we all go through.


Alan Evans.
Sent: Tuesday, 23 July 2013, 17:46

Dear William McIlvanney,
I was at the Harrogate Crime Festival this past weekend and wanted to say how much I enjoyed your interview with Ian Rankin.  I also saw you at the Bristol CrimeFest a couple of months ago following which I read Laidlaw - I thought it was brilliant and loved reading it.  I am so looking forward to reading the others, particularly as you were kind enough to sign all three Laidlaw books for me at Harrogate - thank you. It was a real pleasure to meet you.
I have also just discovered your website which I will read with interest.
Susan Cooper

Sent: Monday, 3 June 2013, 11:08
Subject: A quick hello and a thank you

Hello Mr Mcilvanney

We met when you signed my Laidlaw trilogy at CrimeFest last weekend. I know it was a busy time and you met a lot of people. But I should be easy to remember. I am the bald bloke in the electric wheelchair who was first in the queue on Saturday.

It was an absolute pleasure meeting you and thank you for the wonderful reading.

I hope our paths cross again, as a Noir(e) writer myself it was a real delight meeting one of my inspirations. By the way, I have you in the same literary box I have Elmore Leonard and Charles Bukawski. 

Thank you once again and hope to see you at the next one.

Best regards

Sent: Tuesday, 21 May 2013, 23:12
Subject: new web site

Dear Willie,

Bob gave me the contact address for your new website set up by nephew Neil.

Just had a look and it is great!! Love the photos -what a lovely wee boy you were -and love the handwritten quotes.

Look forward to spending more time  catching up with  it.

Glad to hear from Bob you are well - no need for ground floor flat in West End so I can stop looking!.

Best wishes from Adrianne 

Sent: Tuesday, 14 May 2013, 21:30
Subject: Thank you

Dear Mr Mcilvanney,

I just wanted to write you an email to thank you for your novels. I first read 'The Kiln' as part of my personal study for my higher English at Kirkcaldy High. It was brilliant. The perfect book to read at my age at the time! Of course I also read 'Docherty' too. Great stuff.
I work for Waterstones, in the Kirkcaldy branch. I was lucky enough to work at the Bloody Scotland festival in Stirling last year where I bumped into you at the door of the venue.
Now Laidlaw is back out and is out Scottish book of the month. It's great to have a new copy and have just finished it again.

Hopefully I will make it to one of your events soon as I missed the Edinburgh one!

So again, thanks for your books sir.


Scott Campbell

Sent: Monday, 13 May 2013, 11:17
Subject: Bonjour William

You do not know me, I'm a French writer (so please, excuse the bad quality of my English), and I wish to tell you how much your work has been important in my writing. 

Laidlaw has had a major and decisive influence on me as a novelist (to honour him, the murder of Jennifer Lawson appears in my first novel, published in 2006 and translated into English soon). 

The only reason I write you today is that we will both attend the Crime Festival of Bristol this month. I am invited by my British publisher.

I hope I'll have the opportunity to shake your hand warmly.

Very friendly

Pierre Lemaitre
Sent: Saturday, 11 May 2013, 12:30
Subject: Welcome !

Willie :

A lot of good whisky under the bridge since Frontignan and the South of France!

Delighted to see Cannongate getting behind the Laidlaw books and that you are to be making some appearances to support them. I'm reading the first of the three again and knocked out - though I shouldn't be surprised - by the excellence of the writing.

Best wishes ...


Sent: Monday, 22 April 2013, 13:12
Subject: Fan email

Hello Willy,

I'm a long-standing fan who has bumped into you from time to time. I went to your Aye Write event on Saturday and thought it was brilliant, as did everyone else I spoke to who was there. It was great to see you in such good spirits and hear about all the positive things happening with the books. And I'm really glad the website is up and running - it's been beautifully put together and it's a joy to peruse.

That's all, I just wanted to express my appreciation.

best wishes.

Dini Power

Sent: Sunday, 21 April 2013, 13:09
Subject: Personal Dispatches

Hi Neil,

This is Mark, I met you at the Mitchell Library yesterday (Siobhan's nephew). As I said, I'm really pleased about this website being launched - I've said to Willie a few times over the years that it would be a good idea, and it's very exciting to see it realised. You've done a fantastic job with it, and I hope you're able to keep updating it regularly. It's a privilege to have access to Willie's personal reflections - the stuff that isn't otherwise directly available - and I can't wait to see what's coming up. 

Thanks very much,

Mark McGrory