Ian Rankin

For the Scottish footballer, see Ian Rankin (footballer). For the Canadian politician, see Iain Rankin (politician).
Ian Rankin
Born Ian James Rankin
(1960-04-28) 28 April 1960
Cardenden, Fife, Scotland
Pen name Jack Harvey
Occupation Novelist
Nationality Scottish
Period 1984–present
Genre Crime fiction
Notable works Inspector Rebus novels
Dark Entries
Spouse Miranda
Children 2
Ian Rankin's voice
from the BBC programme Desert Island Discs, 6 November 2011.[1]


Ian James Rankin, OBE, DL, FRSE (born 28 April 1960) is a Scottish crime writer, best known for his Inspector Rebus novels.

Early life

Rankin was born in Cardenden, Fife. His father, James, owned a grocery shop, and his mother, Isobel, worked in a school canteen.[2] He was educated at Beath High School, Cowdenbeath. His parents were horrified when he then chose to study literature at university, expecting him to study for a trade.[2] However, 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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[5][6][2]


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?"[7]

Rankin's Inspector Rebus novels are set mainly in Edinburgh. They are considered major contributions to the tartan noir genre. Ten of the novels were adapted as a television series on ITV, starring John Hannah as Rebus in series 1 and 2 and Ken Stott in that role in series 3–5.

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.[8]

Rankin signing copies of his debut graphic novel, Dark Entries, in the Edinburgh Forbidden Planet International store

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.[9][10][11]

In 2013, Rankin co-wrote the play Dark Road with Mark Thomson, the artistic director of the Royal Lyceum Theatre's.[12][13] The play, which marked Rankin's play-writing debut,[14] premiered at the Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh, in September 2013.[15]


He 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.

Personal life

He lives in Edinburgh with his wife, Miranda, whom he met at university and married in 1986, and their two sons, Jack and Kit, who were 23 and 21 in 2015.[2] They live near the authors JK Rowling, Alexander McCall Smith and Kate Atkinson.[16] 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.[17]

Awards and honours


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.

Year Novel Notes
1986 The Flood
1987 Knots and Crosses 1st Inspector Rebus novel
1988 Watchman
1990 Westwind
1991 Hide and Seek 2nd Inspector Rebus novel
1992 Tooth and Nail 3rd Inspector Rebus novel
Strip Jack 4th Inspector Rebus novel
A Good Hanging and Other Stories Short stories
1993 Witch Hunt Writing as Jack Harvey
The Black Book 5th Inspector Rebus novel
1994 Bleeding Hearts Writing as Jack Harvey
Mortal Causes 6th Inspector Rebus novel
1995 Blood Hunt Writing as Jack Harvey
Let it Bleed 7th Inspector Rebus novel
1997 Black and Blue 8th Inspector Rebus novel
won Macallan Gold Dagger for Fiction
1997 Herbert in Motion & Other Stories Limited edition chapbook with 4 stories, 2 original to this collection
1998 The Hanging Garden 9th Inspector Rebus novel
1999 Dead Souls 10th Inspector Rebus novel
2000 Set in Darkness 11th Inspector Rebus novel
2001 The Falls 12th Inspector Rebus novel
2002 Resurrection Men 13th Inspector Rebus novel
won The Edgar Award
Beggars Banquet Short stories
2003 A Question of Blood 14th Inspector Rebus novel
2004 Fleshmarket Close 15th Inspector Rebus novel
2005 Rebus's Scotland: A Personal Journey Non-Fiction
Awarded CWA Cartier Diamond Dagger
2005 The Complete Short Stories Short stories; omnibus including the contents of A Good Hanging & Other Stories and Beggar's Banquet plus one new story, Atonement
2006 The Naming of the Dead 16th Inspector Rebus novel
2007 Exit Music 17th Inspector Rebus novel
won ITV3 Crime Thriller Award
2008 Doors Open
2009 A Cool Head Quick Reads 2009
The Complaints 1st Malcolm Fox novel
Dark Entries Vertigo Crime featuring John Constantine
2011 The Impossible Dead[33] 2nd Malcolm Fox novel
2012 Standing in Another Man's Grave[34] 18th Inspector Rebus & 3rd Malcolm Fox novel
2013 Saints of the Shadow Bible 19th Inspector Rebus & 4th Malcolm Fox novel
2014 Dark Road Stage play, with Mark Thomson
2014 The Beat Goes On: The Complete Rebus Stories Short stories
2015 Even Dogs in the Wild 20th Rebus & 5th Malcolm Fox novel
2015 Traveling Companion Limited edition bibliomystery
2016 Rather be the Devil 21st Rebus & 6th Malcolm Fox novel

Other publications

Edited Anthology


Graphic novels

Graphic novella


Short stories




  1. "Ian Rankin". Desert Island Discs. 6 November 2011. BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Sturgis, India (26 December 2015). "If I Could See Me Now... What Your Younger Self Would Make of you Today – Ian Rankin" (Weekend supplement). The Daily Telegraph.
  3. "Ian Rankin 1960- Biography". BBC Two; Writing Scotland. September 2004. Retrieved 27 December 2015.
  4. Rankin, I. (1998) Tooth & Nail. London: Orion. p. vii.
  5. "Profile: Ian Rankin", January Magazine
  6. "Ian Rankin", Bookslut, April 2005.
  7. Barnett, Laura (11 December 2012). "Ian Rankin, Author—Portrait of the Artist". The Guardian. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
  8. 1 2 "Ox-Tales". Oxfam.org.uk. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  9. "WC: Vertigo - Innovative and Provocative". Comic Book Resources. 1 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-02.
  10. "Starting Vertigo's Crime Line: Ian Rankin on Dark Entries". Newsarama. March 25, 2009.
  11. Duin, Steve (April 7, 2009). "Ian Rankin vs. Brian Azzarello". The Oregonian.
  12. "Mark Thomson Discusses Dark Road, the First Play by Ian Rankin". list.co.uk. The List. 17 September 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  13. "Lyceum Aims for Top Rankin with Dark Road". scotsman.com. The Scotsman. 1 May 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  14. "Ian Rankin Turns His Pen from Rebus to Stage Play". heraldscotland.com. The Herald. 1 May 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  15. "The Lyceum to Host Ian Rankin's Debut Play as Part of New Season". news.stv.tv. STV. 30 April 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
  16. Ian Rankin No. 1 Magazine, Retrieved 24 February 2014
  17. Scott, Chris. "Mysterious paper sculptures". Central Stn. Retrieved 16 December 2012.
  18. "Ian Rankin". BooksfromScotland.com. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
  19. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Ian Rankin". The British Council. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
  20. 1 2 "The CWA Short Story Dagger". Crime Writers Association. 5 July 2012. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
  21. "The CWA Gold Dagger". Crime Writers Association. 5 July 2012. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
  22. THES Editorial (November 26, 1999). "Glittering Prizes". The Times Higher Education Supplement. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
  23. "University honour for award winning author". University of St Andrews. 3 February 2000. Retrieved 2013-01-07.
  24. "University of Edinburgh Honorary Degrees 2002/03". University of Edinburgh. 28 August 2003.
  25. "The Cartier Diamond Dagger". Crime Writers Association. 5 July 2012. Retrieved January 7, 2013.
  26. "Doctor of the University 1973-2011" (PDF). The Open University. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  27. (French) Guide des Prix littéraires, online ed. Le Rayon du Polar. Synopsis of French prizes rewarding French and international crime literature, with lists of laureates for each Prize. Grand Prix de littérature policière: pp. 18-36.
  28. "The University of Hull awards Honorary Degrees for Inspirational Achievements". University of Hull. 27 January 2006. Retrieved January 8, 2013.
  29. Allen, Katie (2008-10-06). "Rankin and P D James pick up ITV3 awards". theBookseller.com. Retrieved 2008-10-06.
  30. "Shortlist for Theakston's Crime Novel of the year Award 2009". digyorkshire.com. 2009-06-02. Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  31. Alison Flood (5 December 2012). "EL James comes out on top at National Book awards". The Guardian. Retrieved December 5, 2012.
  32. "New Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh" (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
  33. "Ian Rankin latest news, Exit Music, Ian Rankin Rebus novels, Doors Open novel, Books Direct Crime Thriller of the Year, Galaxy British Book Awards". Ianrankin.net. Retrieved 2012-11-08.
  34. "Rebus is back! Ian Rankin reveals his famous detective will return in new novel". Daily Record (Scotland). 5 June 2012. Retrieved 10 June 2012.
  35. "Ian Rankin Newsletter". Ianrankin.net. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  36. "Karen Berger On The Vertigo Crime Line". Newsarama.com. Retrieved 2010-11-04.
  37. "Publication Listing for How I Write:The Secret Lives of Authors". Internet Speculative Fiction Database. Retrieved 2013-01-12.
  38. Dan Crowe (editor) (2013). Dead Interviews: Living Writers Meet Dead Icons. Granta, London. pp. 143–153. ISBN 978-1-84708-827-7.
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