Skip to main content

Literary, artistic and personal correspondence and papers of Alasdair Gray.

 Record Group
Identifier: Acc.14602/1-431

Scope and Contents

At the heart of this archive are the contents of the two filing cabinets which sat in Alasdair Gray’s study, and which have been catalogued here in their original filing order. These contain correspondence and papers relating to Alasdair Gray’s literary and artistic endeavours, as well as extensive personal correspondence and research materials.

The most recent sections of the archive mainly relate to his last great work, his ‘paraphrasing’ of Dante’s ‘Divine comedy’, published by Canongate 2018-2020, with numerous drafts and illustrations spread across notebooks, ledgers, diaries, other books, loose pages and letters. The large art sketch books or ledgers that were mainly used by Alasdair Gray for the work of drafting his version of Dante are full of diary entries, sketches, illustrations and drafts of other works, all interwoven with the Dante drafts in an almost stream-of-consciousness style.

There are extensive papers relating to some of his public art projects, including the renovation and decoration of Òran Mór, the design and installation of the mural at Hillhead subway station, and other projects which did not come to pass, such as the renovation and installation of stained glass portraits at Partick Market.

Drafts and finished scripts for film and TV adaptations of ‘Lanark’ and ‘Poor things’, along with correspondence between Gray and various producers and directors, provide an intriguing glimpse into the attempts to put Gray’s work on screen decades before Yorgos Lanthimos’ 2023 adaptation of ‘Poor things’.

A significant number of books from his personal library, all of which bear Gray’s annotations, indicate his broad and disparate interests, and cover a wide variety of topics, including poetry, art history and contemporary politics.


  • Creation: 1885-2019, undated.


Conditions Governing Access

Normal access conditions apply (subject to data protection concerns). Where specific restrictions apply they are indicated against the relevant entry in the catalogue. Further information on specific restrictions may be obtained from the Archives and Manuscript Division (

Conditions Governing Use

Normal reproduction conditions apply, subject to any copyright restrictions.


432 Folders

Language of Materials



The original order of the drawers and files of the filing cabinets has been retained in order to preserve Alasdair Gray's original filing system. No attempt to reorganise or collate material across the filing cabinet drawers has been made, which may mean that some material is out of place or spread across multiple locations.

Folders, binders and plastic pockets with original labelling have been retained separately at Acc.14602/431, along with drawer labels and other loose files and labels from the filing cabinets.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Bought, 2022, from Andrew Gray, West Hartford.

National Library of Scotland Catalogue of Manuscripts
National Library of Scotland Archives and Manuscripts Division
Description rules
International Standard for Archival Description - General
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the National Library of Scotland Archives and Manuscripts Division Repository

Archives and Manuscript Division
National Library of Scotland
George IV Bridge
Edinburgh EH1 1EJ
0131 623 3700