Source and activity 1

Alasdair Gray self-portrait (circa 1985)

Alasdair Gray self-portrait
[NLS reference: Acc.10191/34]
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This self-portrait of Alasdair Gray was used in 'Lean Tales', a book of short stories by Gray, James Kelman, and Agnes Owens (London: Jonathan Cape, 1985).

It included portraits of each author drawn by Gray and used as title pages within the book. This original drawing includes an overlay with instructions to the printers.

Suggested activity

Use this source as the basis for considering self-portraiture. When looking at Gray's self-portrait, think about the perspective which is almost as though the viewer is drawing the image.

The self-portrait is also shown as a piece of paper on a desk which distances the viewer from the sitter, but at the same time contrasts with the direct eye-line of the portrait.

Why might Gray have chosen to do this?

What is the importance of including the pen and paper, and what might this signify about Alasdair Gray and his own self-image?


Themes in focus - Alasdair Gray

Find out more about Alasdair Gray in our collections

The Alasdair Gray Archive is listed under 'G' in our Guide to Manuscripts Collections.


Search our catalogue for books by or about Alasdair Gray.


Visit the Moving Image Archive site to find films inspired by, featuring, or about Alasdair Gray, including a clip of the film ‘Faces’ using masks made by Gray.

Alasdair Gray on the web

Visit Alasdair Gray’s own website for lots of information.


Find out more about the ‘Lanark’ manuscript held at Glasgow University Library.

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