Early manuscripts of Poor Things in the hand of Alasdair Gray, as well as his artwork.

Final part of Alasdair Gray archive joins ‘Poor Things’ at National Library

The National Library of Scotland has bought the last and final tranche of archive material by renowned author, artist and playwright, Alasdair Gray.

The Library’s collection of Alasdair Gray material is the largest and most comprehensive collection of Gray’s literary and personal materials. After his passing four years ago, the Library continued working with the Estate of Alasdair Gray via his son, Andrew, to ensure public access to Gray’s vast and fascinating working material and correspondence for current and future generations to explore.

Mr Gray said:

“Alasdair through a combination of financial necessity and frequent reorganisation of his studio has, over the years, contributed a large quantity of correspondence, diaries and manuscripts to the Library.

“He would be happy that his collection has remained in Scotland and that in line with his socialist principles, his papers will be accessible to the public for the purposes of research, education and amusement.”

Manuscripts Curator Dr Colin McIlroy said:

“Alasdair Gray is unique in that he has a loyal following in academia and people who enjoy reading more generally. His literary and artistic work is intrinsically informed by and deeply embedded in Glasgow, where – aside from a spell in Wetherby during the Second World War – he lived and worked his whole life.

“During his lifetime we had the privilege of his acquaintance, and it was clear that he lived and breathed art, as much as he lived and breathed his home city. We are deeply honoured to continue to care for his artistic and personal effects. Providing public access to his archive will ensure Gray lives on in our collective psyche – both in Scotland and internationally – for many decades to come.”

New additions to the archive include drafts and working manuscripts of Gray’s writings including illustrated notebooks and film storyboards. There is also correspondence with publishers, literary agents, writers, artists, and friends, as well as extensive files of research material, designs and drawings, printed material and ephemera (especially related to exhibitions and theatre productions), and a selection of annotated books from Gray’s own library.

The vast archive includes the manuscript and early screenplay drafts by Gray for ‘Poor Things’. The film, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, is scheduled for general release this weekend. ‘Poor Things' scooped major awards at the Golden Globes earlier this week, including Best Actress for Emma Stone’s lead role, and Best Film in the musical/comedy category.

Some of the Alasdair Gray archive is available for consultation at the Library’s reading rooms in Edinburgh. However, with more than seven decades’ worth of material, the Library is currently fundraising to hire a cataloguer to speed up the process of making all of Gray’s material available in the reading rooms. Cataloguing will also enable the Library to engage people with the archive material through such things as exhibitions and online content. For information on the fundraising campaign and to donate, visit www.nls.uk/support-nls

Contact Information

Barbara Burke

National Library of Scotland

+44131 623 3738

+447904 791002


Notes to editors

The National Library of Scotland 

The National Library of Scotland is a major European research library and one of the world’s leading centres for the study of Scotland and the Scots – an information treasure trove for Scotland’s knowledge, history and culture. 

The Library’s collections are of international importance. Key formats include rare books, manuscripts, maps, photographs, music, moving images and official publications. 

The Library holds more than 30 million physical items dating back more than 1,000 years as well as a growing library of digital material. Every week the Library collects around 5,000 new items. Most of these are received under Legal Deposit legislation, which allows the Library to claim a copy of everything published in the UK. 

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