Source and activity 3

Page from one of Alasdair Gray's notebooks

Two facing pages from handwritten notebook
Notebook pages.
[NLS reference: Acc.13021/8
(ledger 8)]
View larger notebook image

This is a page from one of Alasdair Gray's working ledgers, which he uses as a personal journal, sketch book, and a note pad for drafting his work.

The page shows his longhand editing process for a single paragraph used in 'A Life in Pictures', published by Canongate Books in 2010.

Suggested activity

This double-page spread from one of Alasdair Gray's notebooks clearly shows his longhand editing process. You can trace the edits made to a single paragraph of text.

Consider the benefits and disadvantages of editing by hand, compared with using a computer.

This archive source shows how the text and Gray's thought process gradually evolves and develops, but how might we find out about a writer's creative process in the future if we only have the computerised final version?

You might like to experiment with writing a short piece of text and making changes by hand. Try reading each version to hear what it sounds like, and to consider the difference that your changes have made.

You could also trace the changes that Alasdair Gray has chosen to make to this paragraph, and consider why he has scored out and changed certain words and phrases.

What is the impact of these changes on the meaning, sound, and impact on the reader? For example, look at the evolution of the first section from 'Most educators …' to '… our childish faith'.


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.

Library learning for you

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