Iain Banks misspelt own name in poem written at university

Iain Banks
Iain Banks spent three years reading English literature, philosophy and psychology at the University of Stirling - Chris Watt

Iain Banks misspelt his name in an error-strewn poem that is being displayed to the public for the first time.

The poem, signed “Ian Banks” and titled Spare Me The Perpetual Emotion, was composed by the late novelist when he was an undergraduate at the University of Stirling in the 1970s.

Now it is to go on public display for the first time since it was published in a student magazine.

The poem will go on display as part of an exhibition of the Scottish author’s private correspondence.

The typewritten poem was published in Cairn, a creative writing magazine produced by students and staff at the university, in the summer of 1975.

It appears to refer to the famous Napalm Girl photograph, taken of nine-year-old Phan Thi Kim Phuc in 1972 during the Vietnam War by then 21-year-old Vietnamese-American photographer Nick Ut.

Misspells ‘seize’

As well as the erroneous spelling of Banks’ first name, the poem also has a misspelling “seize” and contains an incomplete ellipsis with only two dots.

The poem did not make it into Poems, an anthology published posthumously in 2015 that contained 52 works, which Banks composed between the ages of 19 and 27.

Hannah Byrne, one of the students behind the exhibition, said a number of other papers from Banks’ school days also contained the misspelt first name.

“We noticed that he spelt his name like that, we think because of the way it was typed on the typewriter,” the 21-year-old third-year history and heritage undergraduate told The Telegraph.

“There are also quite a few things he wrote when he was at school that had said Ian rather than Iain.”

She added: “We have done a lot of marketing but we did not expect to get as much interest as we have got so it is really exciting for me and the other guys in the class.”

Banks spent three years reading English literature, philosophy and psychology at the University of Stirling and graduated in 1975.

Published works

His writing career took off at the age of 30 when his first published novel, The Wasp Factory, was released in 1984.

He went on to write more than 20 other published works before he died of gallbladder cancer in 2013 at the age of 59.

His final novel, The Quarry, was published shortly after his death and is about a man battling terminal cancer.

The exhibition, titled Two Authors, One Man, is publicly displaying writings, correspondence, fan art, schedules and international translations for the first time.

The items were deposited with the university archives after Banks’ death and have now been collated into the exhibition by students reading history and heritage.

Sarah Bromage, the head of University of Stirling collections, said: “We are delighted to be sharing these never-before-seen items, which give a unique insight into Iain Banks’ writing life and the life of an acclaimed author.

“Two Authors, One Man is unmissable for anyone interested in his work and in creative writing in general.”

The exhibition is free and opens at the University of Stirling library on April 4. It will run until Aug 30.