Jimmy Boyle (artist)

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Jimmy Boyle (born 1944) is a Scottish sculptor, novelist and convicted murderer.


In 1967, he was sentenced to life imprisonment for the murder of another gangland figure, William "Babs" Rooney. During his incarceration in the special unit of Barlinnie Prison, he turned to art and wrote an autobiography, A Sense of Freedom (1977),[1] which has since been filmed and starred David Hayman as Jimmy.[2] Boyle always maintained his innocence of the conviction.[3]

On his release[when?] from prison he moved to Edinburgh to continue his artistic career. He designed the largest concrete sculpture in Europe called "Gulliver" for The Craigmillar Festival Society in 1976.[4] The following year he co-wrote the play The Hardman with Tom McGrath, premiered at the Traverse Theatre.[5]

In 1983 Boyle set up the Gateway Exchange with his wife Sarah and the artist Evlynn Smith; a charitable organisation offering art therapy workshops to recovering drug addicts and ex-convicts. Though the project secured funding from private sources (including Sean Connery, Billy Connolly and John Paul Getty) it lasted only a few years.[6] During this time Boyle was allegedly engaged in a long term affair with Smith, alongside a homosexual relationship with her husband Sebastian Horsley. According to Horsley's 2008 autobiography this contributed to the breakdown of their marriage.[7]

Boyle has published Pain of Confinement: Prison Diaries (1984), and a novel, Hero of the Underworld (1999). The latter was adapted for a French film, La Rage et le Rêve des Condamnés (The Anger and Dreams of the Condemned), and won the best documentary prize at the Fifa Montreal awards in 2002. He also has written a forthcoming novel, A Stolen Smile, which is about the theft of the Mona Lisa and how it ends up hidden on a Scottish housing estate; Disney reportedly bought the film rights.[8][9][10]

In 1998, he was named as a financial donor of the Labour Party.[11]

The character Nicky Dryden in the 1999 film The Debt Collector is loosely based on Boyle.[12]

He lives between France and Morocco with his second wife, Kate Fenwick, a British actress.[13][14] They married in Marrakech, Morocco, on 27 October 2007.


  1. ^ Ferguson, John (28 January 2010). "Sculpture by former Glasgow hardman Jimy Boyle on sale on eBay for £25k". Daily Record. Glasgow. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  2. ^ Mcglone, Jackie (26 September 1992). "Stop the world, I want to change it". The Herald. Glasgow. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  3. ^ "Jimmy Boyle's life less ordinary". BBC News. 27 August 1999. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  4. ^ Laughlan, Kim (10 July 2010). "Boyle sculpture expected to fetch £20,000 at auction". Daily Record. Glasgow. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  5. ^ Fulton, Rick (25 January 2013). "Former brothel that set Scots on road to stardom: Traverse theatre celebrates 50th birthday". Daily Record. Glasgow. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  6. ^ Obituary: Evlynn Smith at the Wayback Machine (archived June 24, 2007), Daily Telegraph, last updated 29 April 2003, accessed 19 October. 2007
  7. ^ Horsley, Sebastian. Dandy in the Underworld. Sceptre, 26 June (2008)
  8. ^ "Scotland on Sunday". Scotlandonsunday.scotsman.com. Retrieved 31 July 2010. 
  9. ^ Cramb, Auslan (10 November 2003). "Disney in £2m deal for novel by Jimmy Boyle". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  10. ^ "French fall for Glasgow hardman". BBC News. 17 November 2002. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  11. ^ "'Luvvies' for Labour". BBC News. 30 August 1998. Retrieved 29 April 2011. 
  12. ^ Kelly, Richard. "The Debt Collector". Sight & Sound. British Film Institute. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  13. ^ Sherwood, Seth (21 October 2007). "In Marrakesh, Homes Among the Palm Groves". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 
  14. ^ Harrison, Anthony (16 February 2007). "Je ne regrette riad". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 July 2014. 

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