William McIlvanney: Docherty

(1350 words)
  • Ken Newton (University of Dundee)

Docherty is William McIlvanney's third novel. It won the Whitbread award for fiction in 1975 and focuses on the Docherty family, who live in High Street, Graithnock – a town based on Kilmarnock in Ayrshire – in the early years of the twentieth century, in the period preceding the First World War. Tam Docherty is a miner, and William McIlvanney has disclosed that he is partly based on his father.

Though the novel is very much in the realist tradition, there has always been a certain literary self-consciousness about McIlvanney's fiction. His first novel, Remedy is None (1966), drew its title from a poem by Dunbar and clearly had a strong relationship with Shakespeare's Hamlet. The mythic associations …

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Newton, Ken. "Docherty". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 30 June 2002
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=5540, accessed 23 September 2014.]