16th February 1984

Iain Banks’ first novel is published

One of the best-known and most influential writers in modern Scottish history, Banks had written several full-length pieces before achieving widespread acclaim for his first novel, The Wasp Factory, which was published on 16 February 1984.

Thus began a prolific career in which Banks produced a book every year until his death in 2013. To distinguish his science fiction work from the rest of his output, he added an M to his name, publishing as Iain M Banks.

Cancer diagnosis

Banks was diagnosed with late-stage gall bladder, cancer, which had spread to other organs. “I’m expected to live for ‘several months’ and it’s extremely unlikely I’ll live beyond a year. So, it looks like my latest novel, The Quarry, will be my last,” he wrote on his website. “As a result, I’ve withdrawn from all planned public engagements, and I’ve asked my partner Adele if she will do me the honour of becoming my widow (sorry – but we find ghoulish humour helps).”

Andrew Brown, writing in The Guardian, called his proposal “one of the most memorable sentences of [Banks’] lifetime, not just his life”.

Posthumous publication

The Quarry was published posthumously – and so was a volume of poetry. The Quarry dealt with cancer, but Banks told the BBC he was already close to 90,000 words through the manuscript before he was diagnosed himself. Although he was given finished copies of the book before dying and had asked his publisher to pull forward the publication date to give him a chance to see it on shelves, he didn’t live long enough to see its launch.

Shortly after his death, an asteroid – 5099 Ianbanks – was named in his honour.



Other events that occured in February

FREE Scotland history newsletter

Don't miss our weekly update on Scotland's fascinating history. We promise never to sell your data to anyone else, and there's a super-easy unsubscribe link on the bottom of each email so you can leave whenever you want.