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Ian Rankin, OBE, DL (born 28 April 1960) is a Scottish crime writer. His best known books are the Inspector Rebus novels. He has also written several pieces of literary criticism.
Born 28 April 1960 in Cardenden, Fife, Rankin attended Beath High School, Cowdenbeath. After graduating from the University of Edinburgh, he moved to Tottenham, London for four years and then rural France for six while he developed his career as a novelist. He was a literature tutor at the University of Edinburgh, where he retains an involvement with the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
Before becoming a full-time novelist he worked as a grape-picker, swineherd, taxman, alcohol researcher, hi-fi journalist, college secretary and punk musician.
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 (the subject of Rankin's uncompleted Ph.D. thesis). He was disconcerted by their classification as genre fiction. 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 ?'
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 & 2, with Ken Stott taking on the role for 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.
Ian 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 called Dark Entries, the second release from the company's new Vertigo Crime imprint.
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.
He lives in Edinburgh with his wife Miranda and their two sons Jack and Kit.
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.