Alan Riach was born in Lanarkshire and took his first degree at the University of Cambridge, where he read English. He then studied for his PhD in the Department of Scottish Literature at Glasgow University.
Alan Riach is a poet and from 1986 to 2000 worked in New Zealand at the University of Waikato, where he held the post of Associate Professor of English and Pro-Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. He specialised in 20th Century literature, teaching Scottish, Irish, American and Post-Colonial Literatures and Modern Poetry.
In 2001 he returned to Scotland and took up the post of Reader in Scottish Literature at the University of Glasgow, since 2003 he has held a Professorship in Scottish Literature and is currently Head of Department.
Riach has contributed to many collections and written other books, including the monograph, Hugh Macdiarmid’s Epic Poetry, which was based on his PhD dissertation and was published in 1991 by Edinburgh University Press. He is also the General Editor of Carcanet’s multi-volume, The Complete MacDiarmid.
His latest of poetry, Clearances, was published in 2001 and Representing Scotland in Literature, Popular Culture and Iconography: The Masks of the Modern Nation was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2005.