Profile: Louise Welsh and Irvine Welsh set for 2014 Edinburgh International Book Festival
The two Scottish writers share more than a surname
This article is from 2014.
Louise Welsh and Irvine Welsh are among modern Scotland’s top literary talents. If you’ve been paying close attention, you’ll also have spotted that they share a surname. Yasmin Sulaiman digs around for more astonishing coincidences between the pair
Date of birth
Louise: February 1, 1965
Irvine: It’s unclear. 1951, 1958 and 1961 have all been quoted as possible years of birth. His official website sheds no light either, stating ‘he remembers little of the birth, though his mother assured him later that it was fairly routine’
Place of birth
Where did they grow up?
Irvine: Edinburgh, too; specifically, Muirhouse
Are they related?
Apparently so. In 2012, Irvine Welsh told men’s fashion journal Mr Porter: ‘her great-great-grandad and my great-grandad are the same person. And Louise’s mum and my mum are good friends’
Louise: University of Glasgow
Irvine: Heriot-Watt University
Where are they now?
Irvine: Chicago and Miami
Before becoming a writer ...
Louise ran a second-hand book shop on Byres Road in Glasgow’s West End
Irvine was in a punk band in London, became a property speculator and then later worked for Edinburgh Council
Number of novels published to date?
Louise: The Cutting Room (2002): a riveting literary crime masterpiece with lots of graphic sex
Irvine: Trainspotting (1993): do we really need to tell you?
What the critics said
Louise: ‘The Cutting Room is a hugely commendable debut, assured and memorable. Crime fiction may have its prize-winner at last’: The Independent
Irvine: ‘Welsh writes with a skill, wit and compassion that amounts to genius. He is the best thing that has happened to British writing for decades’: Sunday Times
Most recent book
Louise: A Lovely Way to Burn (2014): set in pandemic-stricken London, the first in her Plague Times trilogy
Irvine: The Sex Lives of Siamese Twins (2014): trademark filth, but this time in Miami rather than Scotland
What we said
Louise: ‘A solid, pacy murder-mystery, A Lovely Way to Burn will keep you hooked to the last page, even if it is unlikely to linger in your mind afterwards’
Irvine: ‘Not even the Miami sunshine can diminish his darkly twisted view of the world. Female narrators authored by men can often fall into clichéd traps but they dazzle in this hugely entertaining read’
Other notable titles
Any page-to-screen adaptations?
Louise: A film version of The Cutting Room, starring Robert Carlyle, was in the works for a while but has yet to emerge
When they’re not at Charlotte Square, where will you find them?
Louise: At The Empire Café, a series of events that explore Scotland’s relationship with the North Atlantic slave trade. Part of Festival 2014, it’s being held at the Briggait in Glasgow from 24 July to 1 August
Irvine: Probably tweeting. Despite only having joined Twitter in February 2012, by June 2014, he’d already clocked up over 37,000 tweets. That’s a rate of about 44 tweets a day
What else are they up to?
Louise: She’s written plays in the past, and even a libretto. You’ll sometimes hear her presenting radio programmes too
On Scottish independence
Louise: ‘I think whatever happens there’ll be a big stooshie at the end’
Irvine: ‘I think it’s inevitable it will happen. Whether it’ll happen this year or not, I don’t know. It’ll be a close-run thing’
Dialogue 1: Commonwealth (with Louise Welsh), 10 Aug, 7pm; Louise Welsh, 12 Aug, 6.45pm
Irvine Welsh, 22 Aug, 9.30pm
IDP2043 Part 2 with Denise Mina, Irvine Welsh and Friends, 23 Aug, 8.30pm.
All events at Charlotte Square Gardens,0845 373 5888, £10 (£8).