Willy is the seventh of nine children...

...raised in Possilpark, Glasgow. He was educated at Hawthorn Primary (two Chinese Burns and a Fishy), Possilpark Secondary (3 Highers (A, B. C) and 6 O’Grades (A, A, C, C, C, C). Willy worked for 3 years after leaving school, for Strathclyde Regional Council Roads Department, the Royal Bank of Scotland, and Glasgow City Libraries before gaining at night classes (St Augustine’s Secondary) the necessary qualifications to start University in 1981.

He went to the University of Strathclyde initially to study librarianship but failed the course, resigned from the libraries, and continued with his studies in English Literature and Politics. In 1985 he graduated from Strathclyde with a starred first and went to Cambridge to do a PhD on 'Edmund Spenser and Cultural Identity in Early Modern Ireland', graduating in 1990. In 1989, Willy returned to Glasgow to teach and write. Between 1989 and 1995 Willy had eight plays performed at Glasgow's Mayfest and at the Edinburgh Fringe, as well as the West Yorkshire Playhouse, the Lemon Tree in Aberdeen, the Magnum Centre in Irvine and most of Glasgow's main theatres, including The Arches, The Old Athenaeum, The Pavilion, and The Tron. From 1992-94, Willy worked at the University of London (at Goldsmiths and Queen Mary respectively.

Willy is the author of A Spenser Chronology (1994), Salvaging Spenser: Colonialism, Culture and Identity (1997), and Nation, State and Empire in English Renaissance Literature: Shakespeare to Milton (2003). He is editor, with Andrew Hadfield, of A View of the Present State of Ireland: From the First Published Edition (1997). He has also edited five collections of essays: with Brendan Bradshaw and Andrew Hadfield, Representing Ireland: Literature and the Origins of Conflict, 1534-1660 (1993); with Bart Moore-Gilbert and Gareth Stanton, Postcolonial Criticism (1997); with David J. Baker, British Identities and English Renaissance Literature (2002); with Andrew Murphy, Shakespeare and Scotland (2004); with Brian Donaldson of 100 Best Scottish Books (2005); with Alex Benchimol of Spheres of Influence: Intellectual and Cultural Publics from Shakespeare to Habermas (2006).

Willy was founder, with Philip Hobsbaum, of the Creative Writing Master’s at Glasgow University. The course has since become one of the most successful of its kind, producing a host of published writers and prizewinners, including Anne Donovan, Rachel Seiffert and Louise Welsh. Willy has been a Visiting Professor at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire (1997), and was the first recipient of the Gerard Manley Hopkins Visiting Professorship at John Carroll University in Cleveland (1998).

Research interests range from the representation of national and colonial identities in early modern texts through to deconstruction and postcolonialism. Willy is presently working on the depiction of the history and formation of the British state in the writings of Milton and Shakespeare.

Willy has published widely – some would say wildly (over 500 publications and counting) – on early modern English literature from Spenser to Milton, and on modern Scottish and Irish writing, from James Joyce to Irvine Welsh. He is a published playwright, poet and short story writer, and former Scotsman Fringe First Winner at the Edinburgh Festival. His eight plays include From The Calton to Catalonia (1990), a dramatized account of his father, James Maley’s experiences as a POW during the Spanish Civil War, co-written with his brother, John Maley, and The Lions of Lisbon (1992), the story of Celtic’s 1967 European Cup victory, co-written with Iain Auld. Previous jobs include bank clerk, barman, librarian, writer-in-residence in Barlinnie Special Unit, and columnist for the Celtic View, the official magazine of Celtic Football Club, for seasons 2003-4, and 2004-5.


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