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Biography: Iain Banks

“I write because I love it, I enjoy it, I’ve spent most of my life trying to do it better, and I can make a living from it: beats a day job.”

Iain Banks is a Scottish author who is well known and respected for his writings of both literary fiction and science fiction. His science fiction writings are published under the name “Iain M Banks”.


Iain Menzies Banks was born in Dunfermline, Fife on the 16th of February 1954. As his father was a naval officer, Banks experienced life on both the east and west sides of Scotland. He attended both primary and secondary school in Clyde.

Banks attended Stirling University from 1972 to 1975 receiving a degree in English, Philosophy and Psychology. During his vacations he undertook a variety of jobs, such as hospital porter, estate worker, dustman, and gardener.

After university, Banks hitchhiked through Europe, Scandinavia and Morocco. He then undertook various employment with British Steel, IBM, and was a clerk at a law firm in London, where he also got his first book published (The Wasp Factory) in 1984. He returned to Scotland in 1988.

Banks is reputed to be highly political. Not only do his left wing tendencies show through in his writing, but he also acts politically:

  • He was a signatory to the Declaration of Calton Hill, which calls for Scottish independence.
  • He was a vocal member of a group of campaigners who wanted to have Tony Blair impeached for the invasion of Iraq, and protested by cutting up his passport and mailing it to 10 Downing Street.
  • He resigned his membership of the Scotch Malt Whisky Society because of Glenmorangie’s controversial takeover of the club.
  • He entered litigation regarding the transformation for his first novel, The Wasp Factory, into a film—he expressedly didn’t wish the film to be American so the rights were sold to an Irish company who were promptly bought out by an American company who were not dealing with the film as he wished.
  • He sold his extensive car collection and purchased a Lexus RX 400h hybrid, and came out in support of the Green Party.
  • Bibliography


    As Iain Banks

    • The Wasp Factory (1984)
    • Walking on Glass (1985)
    • The Bridge (1986)
    • Espedair Street (1987)
    • Canal Dreams (1989)
    • The Crow Road (1992)
    • Complicity (1993)
    • Whit (1995)
    • A Song of Stone (1997)
    • The Business (1999)
    • Dead Air (2002)
    • The Steep Approach to Garbadale (2007)

    As Iain M Banks

    The Culture series

    • Consider Phlebas (1987)
    • The Player of Games (1988)
    • Use of Weapons (1990)
    • Excession (1996)
    • Inversions (1998)
    • Look to Windward (2000)
    • Matter (2008)


  • Against a Dark Background (1993)
  • Feersum Endjinn (1994)
  • The Algebraist (2004)

Short fiction

  • The State of the Art (1989)


  • Raw Spirit (2003)


Iain Banks crosses comfortably from the science fiction genre to other more diverse literary genres, such as contemporary literature and thriller.

Top 10 favourite books

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