World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Iain Banks

Iain Banks
Banks at the Edinburgh International Book Festival, 18 August 2009
Born 16 February 1954
Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland
Died 9 June 2013(2013-06-09) (aged 59)
Pen name Iain M. Banks
Occupation Writer
Nationality Scottish
Spouse Annie Blackburn (1992–2009; divorced)
Adele Hartley (29 March 2013 – 9 June 2013; his death)
from the BBC programme Open Book, 23 October 2009[1]


Iain Banks (16 February 1954 – 9 June 2013) was a Scottish author. He wrote mainstream fiction under the name Iain Banks, and science fiction as Iain M. Banks, including the initial of his adopted middle name Menzies ().

Following the publication and success of The Wasp Factory (1984), Banks began to write on a full-time basis. His first science fiction book, Consider Phlebas, was released in 1987, marking the start of the popular The Culture series. His books have been adapted for theatre, radio and television. In 2008, The Times named Banks in their list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945".[2] In September 2012 Banks was revealed as one of the Guests of Honour at the 2014 World Science Fiction Convention, Loncon 3. In April 2013, Banks announced that he had inoperable cancer and was unlikely to live beyond a year.[3] He died on 9 June 2013.[4]


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
    • Writing career 2.1
    • Radio and television 2.2
    • Theatre 2.3
  • Politics 3
  • Personal life 4
    • Illness and death 4.1
    • Remembrance 4.2
  • Awards and nominations 5
  • Bibliography 6
    • Fiction as Iain Banks 6.1
    • Science fiction as Iain M. Banks 6.2
      • Novels 6.2.1
        • The Culture series
        • Other novels
      • Short fiction collections 6.2.2
    • Non-fiction 6.3
    • Introductions 6.4
  • References 7
  • External links 8

Early life

Banks was born in Dunfermline, Fife, to a mother who was a professional ice skater and a father who was an officer in the Admiralty. An only child, Banks lived in North Queensferry until the age of nine, near the naval dockyards in Rosyth where his father was based.[5][6] Banks's family then moved to Gourock due to the requirements of his father's work.[7] After attending Gourock and Greenock High Schools, Banks studied English, philosophy and psychology at the University of Stirling (1972–1975).[7][8] He wrote his second novel TTR during his first year at university.[5]

Following graduation Banks chose a succession of jobs that left him free to write in the evenings. These posts supported his writing throughout his twenties and allowed him to take long breaks between contracts, during which time he travelled through Europe, Scandinavia and North America. He was an expediter analyser for IBM, a technician (for British Steel) and a costing clerk for a Chancery Lane, London law firm during this period of his life.[5]


Writing career

Banks decided to become a writer at the age of 11 and completed his first novel The Hungarian Lift-Jet at 16.[5]

Following the publication and success of The Wasp Factory (1984), Banks began to write full-time. His editor at Macmillan, James Hale, advised him to write one book a year and Banks agreed to this schedule.[5]

Banks's first literary book The Wasp Factory was published in 1984 when he was 30, and his first science fiction book Consider Phlebas was released in 1987. The Crow Road (1992) was adapted as a BBC television series and Espedair Street (1987) was broadcast on BBC Radio 4.[8][9] Banks cited Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Brian Aldiss, M. John Harrison and Dan Simmons as literary influences.[10]

Banks published work under two names. His parents had intended to name him "Iain Menzies Banks", but his father made a mistake when registering the birth and "Iain Banks" became the officially registered name. Despite this error, Banks continued to use his middle name and submitted The Wasp Factory for publication as "Iain M. Banks". Banks' editor enquired about the possibility of omitting the 'M' as it appeared "too fussy" and the potential existed for confusion with Rosie M. Banks, a romantic novelist in the Jeeves novels by P.G. Wodehouse; Banks agreed to the omission. Following three mainstream novels, Banks's publishers agreed to publish his first science fiction (SF) novel Consider Phlebas. To create a distinction between the mainstream and SF novels, Banks suggested the return of the 'M' to his name and the author's second title was consequently confirmed.[6][11]

Banks book signing at the 63rd World Science Fiction Convention in Glasgow, August 2005

By his death in June 2013 Banks had published 26 novels. His twenty-seventh novel The Quarry was published posthumously.[12] The author's final work, a collection of poetry, will be released in 2015 and will be published following comments that Banks made about his own poetry in a May 2013 interview: "The poems are a part of the desperate urge to get things that were supposed to be long-term projects out the way. I'm going to see if I can get a book of poetry published before I kick the bucket. I've got about 50 I'm proud of."[13][14]

While he wrote in different categories, he did not try to hide that science fiction was what he enjoyed the most to work on:[15]

Until the last few years or so, when the SF novels started to achieve something approaching parity in sales, the mainstream always out-sold the SF – on average, if my memory isn’t letting me down, by a ratio of about three or four to one. I think a lot of people have assumed that the SF was the trashy but high-selling stuff I had to churn out in order to keep a roof over my head while I wrote the important, serious, non-genre literary novels. Never been the case, and I can’t imagine that I’d have lied about this sort of thing, least of all as some sort of joke. The SF novels have always mattered deeply to me – the Culture series in particular – and while it might not be what people want to hear (academics especially), the mainstream subsidised the SF, not the other way round.

Radio and television

Banks was the subject of The Strange Worlds of Iain Banks South Bank Show (1997), a television documentary that examined his mainstream writing, and was also an in-studio guest for the final episode of Marc Riley's Rocket Science radio show, broadcast on BBC Radio 6 Music.[16] A radio adaptation of Banks's The State of the Art was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in 2009; the adaptation was written by Paul Cornell and the production was directed/produced by Nadia Molinari.[17][18] In 1998 Espedair Street was dramatised as a serial for Radio 4, presented by Paul Gambaccini in the style of a Radio 1 documentary.

In 2011 Banks was featured on the BBC Radio 4 programme Saturday Live. Banks reaffirmed his atheism during his Saturday Live appearance, whereby he explained that death is an important "part of the totality of life" and should be treated realistically, instead of feared.[19][20]

Banks appeared on the BBC television programme Question Time, a show that features political discussion. In 2006 Banks captained a team of writers to victory in a special series of BBC Two's University Challenge. Banks also won a 2006 edition of BBC One's Celebrity Mastermind; the author selected "Malt whisky and the distilleries of Scotland" as his specialist subject.[16][21]

His final interview with Kirsty Wark was broadcast as Iain Banks: Raw Spirit on BBC2 Scotland on Wednesday 12 June 2013.[22]


Banks was involved in the theatre production The Curse of Iain Banks that was written by Maxton Walker[23] and was performed at the Edinburgh Fringe festival in 1999. Banks wrote the music for some of the songs that were featured in the production and collaborated with the play's soundtrack composer Gary Lloyd, who also composed the score for a musical production of the Banks novel The Bridge.[24] Lloyd explained his collaboration with Banks in a Guardian article prior to the opening of the The Curse of Iain Banks:

When he [Banks] first played them to me, I think he was worried that they might not be up to scratch (some of them dated back to 1973 and had never been heard). He needn't have worried. They're fantastic. We're slaving away to get the songs to the stage where we can go into the studio and make a demo. Iain bashes out melodies on his state-of-the-art Apple Mac in Edinburgh and sends them down to me in Chester where I put them onto my Atari.[24]


Banks' political position has been described as "left of centre",[25] and he was an Honorary Associate of the National Secular Society and a Distinguished Supporter of the Humanist Society of Scotland. As a signatory to the Declaration of Calton Hill,[26] he was an open supporter of Scottish independence.[27] In November 2012, Banks supported the campaign group that emerged from the Radical Independence Conference that was held during that month. Banks explained that the Scottish independence movement was motivated by co-operation and "just seem to be more communitarian than the consensus expressed by the UK population as a whole".[28]

In late 2004, Banks was a member of a group of British politicians and media figures who campaigned to have Prime Minister Tony Blair impeached following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In protest he cut up his passport and posted it to 10 Downing Street, the address of the British prime minister—in a Socialist Review interview, Banks explained that his passport protest occurred after he "abandoned the idea of crashing my Land Rover through the gates of Fife dockyard, after spotting the guys armed with machine guns."[21][29] Banks relayed his concerns about the invasion of Iraq in his book Raw Spirit, and the principal protagonist (Alban McGill) in the novel The Steep Approach to Garbadale confronts another character with arguments of a similar nature.[21][29]

In 2010 Banks called for a cultural and educational boycott of Israel following the Gaza flotilla raid incident. In a letter to The Guardian newspaper, Banks stated that he had instructed his agent to turn down any further book translation deals with Israeli publishers:

Appeals to reason, international law, U.N. resolutions and simple human decency mean—it is now obvious—nothing to Israel ... I would urge all writers, artists and others in the creative arts, as well as those academics engaging in joint educational projects with Israeli institutions, to consider doing everything they can to convince Israel of its moral degradation and ethical isolation, preferably by simply having nothing more to do with this outlaw state.[30]

An extract from Banks' contribution to the written collection Generation Palestine: Voices from the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement, entitled "Our People", was published in The Guardian in the wake of the author's cancer revelation. The extract relays the author's support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign that was issued by a Palestinian civil society against Israel until the country complies with international law and Palestinian rights, that commenced in 2005 and applies the lessons from Banks' experience with South Africa's apartheid era. The continuation of Banks' boycott of Israeli publishers for the sale of the rights to his novels was also confirmed in the extract and Banks further explained, "I don't buy Israeli-sourced products or food, and my partner and I try to support Palestinian-sourced products wherever possible."[31]

Personal life

Banks met his first wife, Annie, in London before the 1984 release of his first book.[21] The couple lived in Faversham in the south of England, then split up in 1988. Banks returned to Edinburgh. The couple later resumed their relationship and moved to Fife.[32] They got married in Hawaii in 1992.[21] In 2007, after 15 years of marriage, they announced their separation.[33]

In 1998 Banks had been in a near-fatal accident when his car rolled off the road.[5] In February 2007, Banks sold his extensive car collection, including a 3.2 litre Porsche Boxster, a Porsche 911 Turbo, a 3.8 litre Jaguar Mark II, a 5 litre BMW M5 and a daily use diesel Land Rover Defender whose power he had boosted by about 50%. Banks exchanged all of the vehicles for a Lexus RX 400h hybrid – later replaced by a diesel Toyota Yaris – and said in the future he would fly only in emergencies.[21][34]

Piccadilly, London, 2012
In April 2012 Banks became the "Acting Honorary Non-Executive Figurehead President Elect pro tem (trainee)" of the Science Fiction Book Club based in London England. The title was his own creation and on 3 October 2012 Banks accepted a T-shirt decorated with this title.[35]

Banks lived in North Queensferry, on the north side of the Firth of Forth, with the author and founder of the Dead by Dawn film festival Adele Hartley.[21] Banks and Hartley commenced their relationship in 2006, and married on 29 March 2013[36] after he asked her to "do me the honour of becoming my widow".[3][37]

Illness and death

On 3 April 2013, Banks announced on his website that he had been diagnosed with terminal cancer of the gallbladder and was unlikely to live beyond a year.[3] In his announcement, Banks stated that he would be withdrawing from all public engagements and that The Quarry would be his last novel.[38][39] The dates of publication of The Quarry were brought forward at Banks's request,[40] to 20 June 2013 in the UK[41] and 25 June 2013 in the US.[12][42] Banks died on 9 June 2013.


Banks's publisher stated that the author was "an irreplaceable part of the literary world", a sentiment that was reaffirmed by fellow Scottish author and friend since secondary school Ken MacLeod, who observed that Banks's death "left a large gap in the Scottish literary scene as well as the wider English-speaking world."[40] British author Charles Stross wrote that "One of the giants of 20th and 21st century Scottish literature has left the building."[43] Authors, including Neil Gaiman, Ian Rankin, Alastair Reynolds, and David Brin also paid tribute to Banks, in their blogs and elsewhere.[44][45][46][47]

The asteroid (5099) Iainbanks was named after him shortly after his death.

Awards and nominations

Iain Banks received the following literary awards and nominations:[48][49]

  • 1988 – British Science Fiction Association Award for The Player of Games (nomination)
  • 1990 – British Science Fiction Association Award for Use of Weapons (nomination)
  • 1991 – Arthur C. Clarke Award for Use of Weapons (nomination)[50]
  • 1991 – Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis for Foreign Novel The Bridge (winner)[51]
  • 1992 – Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis for Foreign Novel The Wasp Factory (winner)[51]
  • 1993 – Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis for Foreign Novel Use of Weapons (winner)[51]
  • 1994 – British Science Fiction Association Award for Feersum Endjinn (winner)
  • 1994 – Locus Poll Award for Against a Dark Background (nomination)
  • 1996 – British Science Fiction Association Award for Excession (winner)
  • 1997 – University of St Andrews honorary degree[52]
  • 1997 – University of Stirling honorary doctorate[53]
  • 1997 – British Fantasy Award for Excession (nomination)
  • 1998 – British Science Fiction Award for Inversions (nomination)[54]
  • 1998 – Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis for Foreign Novel Excession (winner)[51]
  • 2001 – Locus Poll Award for Look to Windward (nomination)
  • 2004 – Premio Italia Science Fiction Award in the Best International Novel category for Inversions (winner)
  • 2005 – Hugo Award for The Algebraist (nomination)[55]
  • 2005 – Locus Poll Award for The Algebraist (nomination)
  • 2009 – Locus Poll Award for Matter (second place)
  • 2009 – Prometheus Award for Matter (nomination)[56]
  • 2010 – Open University honorary doctorate[57]


Fiction as Iain Banks

Science fiction as Iain M. Banks


The Culture series
Other novels

Short fiction collections

  • The State of the Art (1991) ISBN 0-929480-06-6
    • Includes three short works set in the Culture universe. It also includes works of fiction more characteristic of Banks's writing published as Iain Banks. A radio version was transmitted by Radio 4 in 2009 Radio 4 website
  • The Spheres (Birmingham Science Fiction Group, 2010)
    • Includes 'The Spheres', excised from the original draft of Transition; and 'The Secret Courtyard', excised from Matter. Limited edition of 500, to mark Novacon 40.


  • Raw Spirit (2003) ISBN 1-84413-195-5 — a travelogue of Scotland and its whisky distilleries


Banks wrote introductions for works by other writers including:


  1. ^ "Grayson Perry". Open Book. 23 October 2009. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 2014-01-18.
  2. ^ "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945". The Times. 5 January 2008. Retrieved 10 February 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c "A personal statement from Iain Banks". Iain M Banks. 3 April 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  4. ^ "Author Iain Banks dies".  
  5. ^ a b c d e f "Doing the Business". The Guardian. 7 August 1999. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  6. ^ a b "BBC News – Five Minutes With: Iain M Banks". 3 November 2012. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  7. ^ a b "Iain M Banks". BBC Scotland. September 2004. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "Iain Banks". British Council. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  9. ^ "Iain Banks : Whit and Excession: Getting Used To Being God". Spike Magazine. 3 September 1996. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  10. ^ "'"Author Iain M. Banks: 'Humanity's future is blister-free calluses!. CNN. 6 January 2009. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  11. ^ Backstage "Mark Lawson Talks to Ian Banks on BBC TV and Radio". 17 November 2006. Retrieved 9 May 2013. 
  12. ^ a b Jason Boog (6 May 2013). "Ian Banks to publish 'The Quarry' in June". GalleyCat. MediaBistro. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  13. ^ Alison Flood (18 February 2014). "Iain Banks's final book to be published in 2015". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 February 2014. 
  14. ^ "BBC News - Iain Banks poems to be published posthumously".  
  15. ^ Iain Banks posts new update to fans on his cancer
  16. ^ a b Simon Johnson (2008). "When is Iain Banks next appearing on TV/Radio?". Iain Banks FAQ. Google, Inc. Retrieved 6 April 2013.. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  17. ^ Paul Cornell (1 March 2009). "The State of the Art". Google, Inc. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  18. ^ BBC (5 March 2009). "The State of the Art Radio Radio 4 dramatisation page". BBC. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  19. ^ Richard Coles. "Saturday Live 21/05/2011". BBC Radio 4. BBC. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  20. ^ "Author Iain Banks: In his own words". Retrieved 9 June 2013. 
  21. ^ a b c d e f g Stuart Jeffries (25 May 2007). "A man of culture". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  22. ^ BBC Scotland Website>
  23. ^ "Theatre: The Curse of Iain Banks, Gilded Balloon". The Herald Scotland. 11 August 1999. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  24. ^ a b Gary Lloyd (22 July 1999). "Work in progress". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  25. ^ "Scots writers spurn their neighbours". The Economist. 24 April 1997. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  26. ^ "SSP News : News from the Scottish Socialist Party". 29 September 2007. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  27. ^ Kennedy, AL; Galloway, Janice (28 August 2011). "Scotland and England: what future for the Union? | Culture | The Observer". London: Guardian. Retrieved 4 September 2011. 
  28. ^ Hamish Macdonell (24 November 2012). "Radicals threaten Salmond and Scottish independence campaign". The Independent. Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  29. ^ a b "Interview: Changing society, imagining the future". Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  30. ^ Banks, Iain (2 June 2010). "Letters: Small step towards a boycott of Israel". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  31. ^ Iain M Banks (5 April 2013). "Iain Banks: why I'm supporting a cultural boycott of Israel". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  32. ^ Banks, Iain (2003). Raw Spirit: In Search of the Perfect Dram. London: Century. pp. 102–103.  
  33. ^ Liz Hoggard (18 February 2007). "Iain Banks: The novel factory". London: Independent. 
  34. ^ Mark Macaskill and Robert Booth (25 February 2007). "Bye-bye Porsches, says green convert Iain Banks". London: Times. 
  35. ^ Gerard Earley (3 October 2012). "Iain M. Banks became President of Science Fiction Book Club, London England". London: Web. 
  36. ^ Stephen McGinty (8 April 2013). "Iain Banks marries in his favourite place". The Scotsman. Johnston Publishing Ltd. Retrieved 10 May 2013. The couple's wedding certificate shows that Banks, 59, of North Queensferry, married 42-year-old Miss Hartley at the five-star hotel [Inverlochy Castle Hotel, The Highlands], in a short humanist ceremony on Good Friday. 
  37. ^ Andrew Brown (4 April 2013). "In one sentence, Iain Banks speaks volumes about marriage". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 June 2013. 
  38. ^ BBC (3 April 2013). "Author Iain Banks has terminal cancer". Web. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  39. ^ "Iain Banks Announces He Has 'Months' To Live". Sky News. 3 April 2013. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  40. ^ a b "Iain Banks dies of cancer aged 59". BBC. 9 June 2013. Retrieved 9 June 2013. 
  41. ^ "Iain Banks – The Quarry cover art, release date and synopsis reveal". Retrieved 30 April 2013. 
  42. ^ Lindsay Deutsch (7 May 2013). "Book Buzz: New Iain Banks coming in June". USA TODAY. Retrieved 10 May 2013. 
  43. ^ Fuck every cause that ends in murder and children crying" — Iain Banks, 1954-2013 - Charlie's Diary""". Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  44. ^ "Neil Gaiman's Journal: Iain Banks. With or without the M". 5 November 2011. Retrieved 10 June 2013. 
  45. ^ "Approaching Pavonis Mons by Balloon: Iain Banks 1954–2013". 
  46. ^ "Iain Banks: Tributes paid to author". BBC. 10 June 2013. Retrieved 17 June 2013. 
  47. ^ "Science Fiction: A lament - then Optimism and the Next Generation / First: Sad News". 
  48. ^ "Iain M. Banks – Award Bibliography". isfdb database. Al von Ruff. 1995–2011. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  49. ^ "Banks, Iain M.". The LOCUS Index to SF Awards. Mark R. Kelly and Locus Publications. 2000–2011. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  50. ^ "Arthur C.Clarke Award Shortlists". The Arthur C Clarke Award. The Arthur C Clarke Award. 2012. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  51. ^ a b c d "Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis 1992" (in German). Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis. 1992. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  52. ^ "Honorary degrees". Times Higher Education. 17 March 1997. Retrieved 27 June 2013. 
  53. ^ "Honorary Graduates1988-1997". University of Stirling (Development and External Affairs). Retrieved 27 June 2013. 
  54. ^ "Premio Italia". Italcon (in Italian). Delos Books e World SF. 2004. Retrieved 6 April 2013. 
  55. ^ "Hugo Awards 2005". Hugo Awards. 2005. Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  56. ^
  57. ^ "Doctor of the University 1973–2011". The Open University. Retrieved January 9, 2013. 
  58. ^ "ASLS Honorary Fellowships". Association for Scottish Literary Studies. Retrieved 5 November 2013. 

External links

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.