Jeff Torrington wrote just two novels, but his first, (Swing Hammer Swing! won the Whitbread award in 1992 and influenced a generation of Scottish writers. Torrington was born in the Gorbals in Glasgow in 1935. As a boy he caught tuberculosis, and had to leave school to recuperate, and to read.
A variety of jobs followed, including film projectionist, postal worker and railway fireman, before joining the Linwood car factory. After he was made redundant in 1980 he joined the writers’ group at Paisley Central Library where he met and was encouraged to write by James Kelman. Many of his short stories were published in newspapers and magazines. It is said that Swing Hammer Swing! took thirty years to write, with many redrafts, before its eventual publication in 1992. The book was later turned into a play by the Glasgow Citizens’ Theatre.
Torrington’s experiences at the Linwood factory were fictionalised in the novel The Devil’s Carousel, published in 1998.
He died in Paisley in 2008 from Parkinson’s Disease, while he was working on a third novel, Go Down Laughing.