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William McIlvanney's 'Dreaming Scotland'

William McIlvanney's

'Dreaming Scotland'


One of Scotland's most successful writers, William McIlvanney discusses his personal reasons for voting yes for Scottish Independence in this limited edition of the Saltire Series.


Credit: Iain MacLean


In Dreaming Scotland beloved novelist William McIlvanney explores the Scottish Independence Referendum through his own life experiences and with the theme of legacy. McIlvanney begins his essay undecided on how he would vote on that fateful September day and, threading his experience with the NHS, thoughts on American politics and Scotland’s national myths, ends it firmly decided.

William McIlvanney was born in Kilmarnock. He studied at Kilmarnock Academy and later at the University of Glasgow, after which he worked as an English teacher between 1960 and 1977. His first book, Remedy is None, was published in 1966 and won the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. Docherty (1975), a moving portrait of a miner whose courage and endurance is tested during the depression, won the Whitbread Novel Award. The Big Man (1985) is the story of Dan Scoular, an unemployed man who turns to bare-knuckle fighting to make a living.  Both novels feature typical McIlvanney characters-tough, often violent, men locked in a struggle with their own nature and background. The Big Man was made into a film starring Liam Neeson and featuring Billy Connolly.  His novel, The Kiln (1996), won the Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year Award. William McIlvanney is also an acclaimed poet, and is the author of The Longships in Harbour: Poems (1970) and Surviving the Shipwreck (1991), which also contains pieces of journalism, including an essay about TS Eliot. His short story ‘Dreaming’ (published in Walking Wounded in 1989) which he turned into a television play, was filmed by BBC Scotland in 1990 and won a BAFTA. He was writer and narrator of the BBC Scotland football documentary Only a Game? in 1986, and the official history of Celtic football club in 1988. William McIlvanney’s work was republished by Canongate in 2013 starting with Laidlaw, The Papers of Tony Veitch and Strange Loyalties.

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