Ian James Rankin (born 28 April 1960) is a Scottish crime writer, best known for his Inspector Rebus novels.
Rankin was born in Cardenden, Fife. His father, James, owned a grocery shop, and his mother, Isobel, worked in a school canteen. He was educated at Beath High School, Cowdenbeath. His parents were horrified when he then chose to study literature at university, as they had expected him to study for a trade. Encouraged by his English teacher, he persisted and graduated in 1982 from the University of Edinburgh, where he also worked on a doctorate on Muriel Spark but did not complete it. He has taught at the university and retains an involvement with the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. He lived in Tottenham, London, for four years and then rural France for six while he developed his career as a novelist. Before becoming a full-time novelist, he worked as a grape picker, swineherd, taxman, alcohol researcher, hi-fi journalist, college secretary and punk musician in a band called the Dancing Pigs.
Rankin did not set out to be a crime writer. He thought his first novels, Knots and Crosses and Hide and Seek, were mainstream books, more in keeping with the Scottish traditions of Robert Louis Stevenson and even Muriel Spark. He was disconcerted by their classification as genre fiction. The Scottish novelist Allan Massie, who tutored Rankin while Massie was writer-in-residence at the University of Edinburgh, reassured him by saying, "Do you think John Buchan ever worried about whether he was writing literature or not?"Rankin's Inspector Rebus novels are set mainly in Edinburgh. They are considered major contributions to the tartan noir genre. Thirteen of the novels - plus one short story - were adapted as a television series on ITV, starring John Hannah as Rebus in series 1 and 2 (4 episodes) and Ken Stott in that role in series 3–5 (10 episodes).
In 2009, Rankin donated the short story "Fieldwork" to Oxfam's Ox-Tales project, four collections of UK stories written by 38 authors. Rankin's story was published in the Earth collection.
In 2009 Rankin stated on Radio Five Live that he would start work on a five- or six-issue run on the comic book Hellblazer, although he may turn the story into a stand-alone graphic novel instead. The Vertigo Comics panel at WonderCon 2009 confirmed that the story would be published as a graphic novel, Dark Entries, the second release from the company's Vertigo Crime imprint.In 2013, Rankin co-wrote the play Dark Road with Mark Thomson, the artistic director of the Royal Lyceum Theatre. The play, which marked Rankin's play-writing debut, premiered at the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, in September 2013.In 2005, Ian Rankin became the tenth best selling writer in Britain, accounting for 10% of all crime fiction sold. He writes under the pseudonym Jack Harvey as well.
Rankin is a regular contributor to the BBC Two arts programme Newsnight Review. His 3-part documentary series on the subject of evil was broadcast on Channel 4 in December 2002. In 2005 he presented a 30-minute documentary on BBC Four called Rankin on the Staircase, in which he investigated the relationship between real-life cases and crime fiction. It was loosely based on the Michael Peterson murder case, as covered in Jean-Xavier Lestrade's documentary series Death on the Staircase. The same year he collaborated with folk musician Jackie Leven on the album Jackie Leven Said.In 2007, Rankin appeared in programmes for BBC Four exploring the origins of his alter-ego character, John Rebus. Titled "Ian Rankin's Hidden Edinburgh" and "Ian Rankin Investigates Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde," Rankin looks at the origins of the character and the events that led to his creation.
In the TV show Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, he takes a trip through Edinburgh with writer/cook Anthony Bourdain.
Rankin is the singer in the six-piece band Best Picture, formed by journalists Kenny Farquharson (The Times) and Euan McColl (The Scotsman) in 2017, and featuring Bobby Bluebell on guitar. They released a single "Isabelle" on Oriel Records in October 2017. They made their live debut at the Kendal Calling music festival on 28 July 2018.
He lives in Edinburgh with his wife, Miranda (née Harvey), whom he met at university and married in 1986, and their two sons: John Morgan "Jack" Harvey-Rankin (born 1992) and Christopher Connor "Kit" Harvey-Rankin (born 1994). He has acknowledged the assistance they get from Forward Vision in Edinburgh in looking after Kit and other young adults with special needs. They lived for a number of years in the Merchiston/Morningside area, near the authors J. K. Rowling, Alexander McCall Smith and Kate Atkinson, before moving to a penthouse flat in the former Edinburgh Royal Infirmary building in Quartermile in Lauriston. The couple also own a house in Cromarty in the Scottish Highlands. Rankin appears as a character in McCall Smith's 2004 novel, 44 Scotland Street.
In 2011 a group of ten book sculptures were deposited around Edinburgh as gifts to cultural institutions and the people of the city. Many of the sculptures made reference to the work of Rankin, and an eleventh sculpture was a personal gift to him.In 2019, Rankin donated his personal archives to the National Library of Scotland after moving to his flat in the Quartermile. The Library is planning an exhibition for 2021 of highlights from the archive, which includes research notes, newspaper clippings and manuscripts.
Awards and honours
1988 Elected Hawthornden Fellow
1991 Chandler-Fulbright Award
1994 CWA Short Story Dagger for A Deep Hole
1996 CWA Short Story Dagger for Herbert in Motion in Perfectly Criminal
1997 CWA Gold Dagger for Fiction for Black and Blue
1997 Edgar Award for best novel, shortlist, Black and Blue
1999 University of Abertay Dundee honorary doctorate
2000 University of St Andrews honorary doctorate
2000 Palle Rosencrantz Prize (Denmark)
2002 Officer of the Order of the British Empire for services to literature
2003 University of Edinburgh honorary doctorate
2003 Whodunnit Prize (Finland)
2003 Grand Prix du Roman Noir (France)
2004 Edgar Award for Resurrection Men
2005 CWA Lifetime Achievement Award (Cartier Diamond Dagger)
2005 Open University honorary doctorate
2005 Grand Prix de Littérature Policière (France) for Set in Darkness
2005 Deutsche Krimi Prize (Germany), for Resurrection Men
2006 University of Hull honorary doctorate
2007 The Edinburgh Award
2008 ITV3 Crime Thriller Award for Author of the Year, for Exit Music.
2009 Theakston's Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, shortlisted Exit Music
2012 Specsavers National Book Award, Outstanding Achievement
2015 Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
2016 UNESCO City of Literature Visiting Professor at University of East Anglia
2016 RBA Prize for Crime Writing for Even Dogs in the Wild, the world's most lucrative crime fiction prize at €125,000.
2016 Elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of LiteratureBibliography
To date, he has published 25 novels, two short story collections, one original graphic novel and one novella, and a non-fiction book. He has also written a Quick Reads title.
Criminal Minded (2000) (edited and with an introduction by Rankin)Recordings
Jackie Leven Said (Cooking vinyl, 2005), with Jackie Leven
The Sixth Stone (CD, 2007), with Aidan Moffat, on Ballads of the Book
This Has Been the Death of Us (7th Realm Of Teenage Heaven, 2009), with Saint Jude's Infirmary
The Third Gentleman (BBC Broadcast, 25 October 1997. 87mins). Black comedy set in 1790s Edinburgh
The Deathwatch Journal (Audiobook / BBC Broadcast, 2017. 75mins). Read by Jimmy Chisholm.Graphic novels Dark Entries (September 2009) with art by Werther Dell'Edera. Published by Vertigo Crime and starring John Constantine of Hellblazer.Graphic novella
The Lie Factory, illustrated by Tim Truman. Published as part of a CD package, Kickback City, featuring Rory Gallagher songs fictionalized in the novella and with narration by Aidan QuinnOpera
Gesualdo, with Craig Armstrong (2008)Short stories
"Summer Rites" (1984) (published in Cencrastus, No. 18 - actually a section of Rankin's first novel)
"An Afternoon" (1984) (published in New Writing Scotland No. 2) (slightly revised version published in OxCrimes, 2014)
"Voyeurism" (1985) (published in New Writing Scotland No. 3)
"Colony" (1986) (published in New Writing Scotland No. 4)
"Scarab" (1986) (published in Scottish Short Stories 1986)
"Territory" (1987) (published in Scottish Short Stories 1987)
"Remembrance" (1988) (published in Cencrastus, Spring)
"Playback" (1990) (Rebus; published in Winter's Crime 22; reprinted in A Good Hanging & Other Stories, 1992)
"Talk Show" (1991) (Rebus; published in Winter's Crimes 23)
"The Dean Curse" (1992) (Rebus; published in A Good Hanging & Other Stories)
"Being Frank" (1992) (Rebus; published in A Good Hanging & Other Stories)
"Concrete Evidence" (1992) (Rebus; published in A Good Hanging & Other Stories)
"Seeing Things" (1992) (Rebus; published in A Good Hanging & Other Stories)
"A Good Hanging" (1992) (Rebus; published in A Good Hanging & Other Stories)
"Tit for Tat" (1992) (Rebus; published in A Good Hanging & Other Stories)
"Not Provan" (1992) (Rebus; published in A Good Hanging & Other Stories)
"Sunday" (1992) (Rebus; published in A Good Hanging & Other Stories)
"Auld Lang Syne" (1992) (Rebus; published in A Good Hanging & Other Stories)
"The Gentlemen's Club" (1992) (Rebus; published in A Good Hanging & Other Stories)
"Monstrous Trumpet" (1992) (Rebus; published in A Good Hanging & Other Stories)
"In the Frame" (1992) (Rebus; published in Winter's Crimes 24)
"Trip Trap" (1992) (Rebus; published in 1st Culprit)
"Marked for Death" (1992) (published in Constable New Crimes 1)
"Well Shot" (1993) (Rebus; published in 2nd Culprit; not included in the UK and US editions of The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories)
"Video, Nasty" (1993) (published in Constable New Crimes 2)
"Castle Dangerous" (1993) (Rebus; published in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, EQMM, October)
"Someone Got to Eddie" (1994) (published in 3rd Culprit)
"Facing the Music" (1994) (Rebus; published in Midwinter Mysteries 4)
"A Deep Hole" (1994) (published in London Noir)
"The Serpent's Back" (1995) (published in Midwinter Mysteries 5)
"Adventures in Babysitting" (1995) (published in No Alibi and in Master's Choice Two)
"Principles of Accounts" (1995) (published in EQMM, August)
"Window of Opportunity" (1995) (Rebus, published in EQMM, December)
"Natural Selection" (1996) (published in Fresh Blood)
"Herbert in Motion" (1996) (published in Perfectly Criminal)
"The Wider Scheme" (1996) (published in EQMM, August)
"My Shopping Day" (1997) (Rebus; published in Herbert in Motion & Other Stories [limited edition chapbook of 200 copies]; not included in the UK edition of The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories, but included in the U.S. edition)
"No. 79" (1997) (published in Herbert in Motion & Other Stories)
"Glimmer" (1998) (published in Blue Lightning)
"Unknown Pleasures" (1998) (published in Mean Time)
"Detective Novels: The Pact Between Authors and Readers" (1998) (article; published in The Writer, December)
"Death is Not the End" (1998) (novella later expanded into Dead Souls)
"The Missing" (1999) (published in Crime Wave, March)
"Get Shortie" (1999) (Rebus; published in Crime Wave 2, Deepest Red, June; not included in the UK and US editions of The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories)
"The Acid Test" (1999) (Rebus; published in EQMM, August; not included in the UK and US editions of The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories)
"The Hanged Man" (1999) (published in Something Wicked (UK) and EQMM, September/October)
"The Only True Comedian" (2000) (published in EQMM, February)
"Unlucky in Love, Unlucky at Cards" (2000) (published in EQMM, March)
"The Confession" (2000) (published in EQMM, June)
"The Slab Boys" (2000) (published in Scenes of Crime)
"No Sanity Clause" (2000) (Rebus; originally titled "Father Christmas's Revenge, published in The Daily Telegraph, December)
"Tell Me Who to Kill" (2003) (Rebus; published in Mysterious Pleasures)
"Saint Nicked" (2003/2004) (published in The Radio Times, 21 December 2003 & 4 January 2004)
"Soft Spot" (2005) (published in Dangerous Women)
"Showtime" (2005) (published in One City)
"Not Just another Saturday" (August 2005) (written for SNIP, a charity organisation; people in attendance of the event were provided with a "typescript" of the story)
"Atonement" (2005) (written for the anthology Complete Short Stories, which combined the contents of A Good Hanging & Other Stories and Beggar's Banquet, but was far from "Complete")
"Sinner: justified" (2006) (published in Superhumanatural)
"Graduation Day" (2006) (published in Murder in the Rough)
"Fieldwork" (2009) (published in Ox-Tales)
"Penalty Clause" (2010) (Rebus; published in Mail on Sunday, December)
"The Very Last Drop" (2013) (Rebus; written to read aloud at an Edinburgh charity event to help the work of Royal Blind; published in the US and UK editions of The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories)
"Dead and Buried" (2013) (Rebus; published with Saints of the Shadow Bible)
"In the Nick of Time" (2014) (Rebus; published in Face Off)
"The Passenger" (2014) (Rebus; published in the UK and US editions of The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories)
"A Three-Pint Problem" (2014) (Rebus; published in the UK and US editions of The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories)
"Cinders" (2015) (Rebus; published in the US edition of The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories)
"The Travelling Companion" (2015) (novella, published by the Mysterious Bookshop, NYC; signed, lettered limited cloth edition of 26 copies and 100 numbered copies; softcover edition of 1,000 copies; published in the UK in 2016 by Head of Zeus Ltd, London)
"Meet & Greet" (2015) (published in The Strand XLVI)
"The Kill Fee" (2015) (published in The New Statesman December 18, 2015—January 8, 2016)
"Cafferty's Day" (2016) (Rebus; published with Rather be the Devil)
"Charades" (2017) (Rebus; published in Country Life December 13/20)Other
"Oxford Bar" (2007) (Essay published in the anthology How I Write: The Secret Lives of Authors)
"John Rebus" (2007) (Mysterious Profile #8, a chapbook published by The Mysterious Bookshop in NYC in a signed limited hardcover edition of 100 copies and 1,000 softcover copies; reprinted in the UK edition of The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories as "Rankin on Rebus")
Ian Rankin interviews Arthur Conan Doyle (2013), published in Dead Interviews
William McIlvanney's final novel, The Dark Remains, is being completed by Ian Rankin and is due to be released in September 2021.Criticism
Alegre, Sara Martin,"Aging in F(r)iendship: 'Big Ger' Cafferty and John Rebus," in Clues: A Journal of Detection 29.2 (2011): 73–82.
Horsley, Lee, The Noir Thriller (Houndmills & New York: Palgrave, 2001).
Lanchester, John, "Rebusworld", in London Review of Books 22.9 (27 April 2000), pp. 18–20.
Lennard, John, "Ian Rankin", in Jay Parini, ed., British Writers Supplement X (New York & London: Charles Scribner's Sons, 2004), pp. 243–60
MacDonald, Erin E., "Ghosts and Skeletons: Metaphors of Guilty History in Ian Rankin's Rebus Series", in Clues: A Journal of Detection 30.2 (2012): 67–75.
MacDonald, Erin E., Ian Rankin: A Companion to the Mystery Fiction (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2020).
Mandel, Ernest, Delightful Murder: A Social History of the Crime Story (Leichhardt, NSW, & London: Pluto Press, 1984).
Marshall, Rodney, Blurred Boundaries: Rankin's Rebus (Amazon, 2012)
Nicol, Christopher, "Ian Rankin's 'Black & Blue'", Scotnote No.24 (Glasgow: ASLS Publications, 2008)
Ogle, Tina, "Crime on Screen", in The Observer (London), 16 April 2000, Screen p. 8.
Plain, Gill, Ian Rankin’s Black and Blue (London & New York: Continuum, 2002)
Plain, Gillian, "Ian Rankin: A Bibliography", in Crime Time 28 (2002), pp. 16–20.
Robinson, David, "Mystery Man: In Search of the real Ian Rankin", in The Scotsman 10 March 2001, S2Weekend, pp. 1–4.
Rowland, Susan, "Gothic Crimes: A Literature of Terror and Horror", in From Agatha Christie to Ruth Rendell (Houndmills & New York: Palgrave, 2001), pp. 110–34.References
External links Media related to Ian Rankin at Wikimedia Commons
Ian Rankin Official website
Ian Rankin at IMDb
Guardian Books profile, with links to further articles.
Ian Rankin at Edinburgh Central Library, Oct 2010 (video interview in several parts)
CNN interview with Ian Rankin
2011 radio interview at The Bat Segundo Show (1 hour)
Two BooksfromScotland.com interviews with Ian Rankin
Radio Interview on RadioNZ's Nine to Noon Show 26 February 2013