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John Byrne
Born 6 January 1940
Occupation Playwright, Artists

John Byrne (born 6 January 1940) is a Scottish playwright and artist.



John Byrne was born to an Irish Catholic family in Paisley, Renfrewshire. He grew up in the Ferguslie Park housing scheme and was educated at the town's St Mirin's Academy before attending Glasgow School of Art from 1958 to 1963. Byrne has received three Honorary Doctorates: in 1997 he was presented with an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Paisley, in 2004 he was made an associate of the Royal Scottish Academy, and in 2006 he was presented with an Honorary Doctorate from the Robert Gordon University Gray's School of Art in Aberdeen.

He currently lives in Edinburgh with his sweetheart Jeanine Davies. They are both great friends with Tilda Swinton and her sweetheart Sandro Kopp. Contrary to the information that was previously in this article, to the effect that John Byrne and Tilda Swinton are in a "polyamorus" relationship, see Byrne's interview with Mike Wade in The Times, 22 Aug, 2009, in which he sets the record straight. Tilda Swinton and John Byrne are mother and father of twins Honor and Xavier.




Year Title Additional information
1977 Writer's Cramp
1979 The Loveliest Night of the Year
1979 Normal Service
1979-80 Hooray for Hollywood
1980 Babes in the Wood
1981 Cara Coco
1982 Colquhoun and McBryde
1978-1982 The Slab Boys (1978) Together they make up The Slab Boys Trilogy
Cuttin' a Rug (1979)
Still Life (1982)
1984 Candy Kisses
1985 London Cuckolds
1997 The Government Inspector
2004 Uncle Varick A comedic adaptation of the Anton Chekhov play Uncle Vanya
2004 Tutti Frutti An adaptation of the TV Series
2008 Nova Scotia The fourth play in the Slab Boys story

Information take from The Playwrights Database.[1]


Byrne is best known as the writer of Tutti Frutti, a 1987 television series starring Robbie Coltrane, Emma Thompson, and Richard Wilson, which he later turned into a play.[2] He also wrote the six-part series Your Cheatin' Heart in 1990.[3]


From 1964 until 1966 he designed jackets for Penguin Books. Following unsuccessful experiences with London galleries he released (through London’s Portal Gallery) a series of works from 1967 under the pseudonym of "Patrick" he claimed were created by his father, an alleged self-taught painter of faux-naïf images.[4] These works began to meet with some success and his painting career commenced.

Byrne has also designed record covers for Donovan, The Beatles, Gerry Rafferty and Billy Connolly. Singer-songwriter Rafferty's song Patrick is written about Byrne (the lyrics begin: "Patrick my primitive painter of art/You will always and ever be near to my heart"), and the pair co-wrote several songs together.

Recently, he illustrated Selected Stories by James Kelman, winner of the 1994 Booker Prize. His work is held in major collections in Scotland and abroad. Several of his paintings hang in The Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh, including portraits of Robbie Coltrane, Billy Connolly, the mother of his children, Tilda Swinton, and a self-portrait.


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  4. ^ "Byrne biography at Portal Gallery".  

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