Scottish writer William McIlvanney dies aged 79

Tributes have been paid to the great Scottish writer, poet and political thinker William McIlvanney, who has died aged 79.

The author of the celebrated 1977 Glasgow detective novel Laidlaw had been ill for a short time.

Edinburgh crime writer Ian Rankin described McIlvanney death as “dreadful news”.

He said: “A truly inspired and inspiring author and an absolute gent.”

Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh said: “Absolutely gutted to hear this. An inspirational writer and one of the loveliest guys you could hope to meet.”

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Shedding a tear at news of Willie McIlvanney’s death. His writing meant so much to me when I was growing up. RIP.”

McIlvanney, dubbed as The Godfather of Tartan Noir, was born in Kilmarnock and was the most-celebrated Scottish novelist of the Seventies.

His 1975 novel, Docherty, brought him wordlwide acclaim before Laidlaw was hailed for “changing the face of crime fiction”.

Speaking at a screening of a documentary about his life recently, McIlvanney said: “I get shifty when I talk about it but there are three or four things I’d like to write before I ‘cash in’, but whether I will or not I don’t know.

“I write from compulsion, I have to generate a compulsion, I have probably four ideas that matter to me very much and I hope to realise them, but if you’re a betting man don’t put a bet on it, just wait and see what happens.”

His older brother, sports writer Hugh McIlvanney, has previously said William’s writing always represented the voice and experience of ordinary folk but also their “great intelligence” and “vivid expression”.

“If you were in a pub in Kilmarnock, evidence of intelligence or a capacity to use words properly actually meant more than being hard,” he said.

“They had a lot of respect for hard men but they had even more respect for the word.”

McIlvanney is survived by his partner Siobhan, daughter Siobhan and son Liam.