SHE was an unknown writer who tragically took her own life after struggling for years with mental illness.

But Sophie Reilly’s work has at last received critical acclaim for its searing honesty and the joy she expressed in small things as her brother prepares to publish a collection of her work . 

Ms Reilly, from Glasgow, died last year at the age of 21 leaving behind poems, drama and prose which have now been compiled into her first book, Tigerish Waters.

Launching next month, the collection has been praised by literary experts and fellow writers, who have hailed the young writer’s burgeoning talent. 

The book is to be sold to raise money for the Scotland Association for Mental Health (SAMH), and has been edited by Ms Reilly’s brother Samuel. 

Carl MacDougall, President of Scottish PEN, the writers’ association, described her writing as “riddled with honesty” and that the measure of her success magnified her loss.

Fellow poet and author Magi Gibson added: “These are extraordinarily insightful pieces from a hugely talented young writer we have lost way too soon.”

Sophie Reilly

Mr Reilly, who is also a writer, said that Tigerish Waters is both a celebration of his sister’s creative energies and a record of their destructive nature, which he hopes will aid other families who have a loved one struggling with mental illness. 

He said: “I had the idea to put the book together shortly after she died. She always wrote from a very young age, very personal stuff where her place in the world was her main focus. It was difficult to read this stuff at the time, and I used to suggest that she write about something other than herself. 

“When she died I went back to read it again, and was shocked to realise how powerful her writing was.

“We hope it reveals Sophie as she was, and in so doing, encourages her readers to reflect on the mental illnesses she suffered, and which continue to afflict so many young people today.”

He said that despite its tragic starting point, the book is “sadly uplifting” and that his sister, who suffered from bipolar disorder among other illnesses, wrote best when she was writing from a place of hope.

The 24-year-old said: “The writing itself is sadly uplifting, and I did not know how that could be because it was such a difficult time for her. 
“What spurred her into writing was the compassion of people who reached out to her, and the moments when things seemed hopeful and optimistic.”

He added: “It’s very easy for people to think that mental illness defines who they are. But she wrote that ‘we are people, not diagnoses’. That was her rallying cry.

“She was an effusive, charming, bright, passionate and witty girl who was extremely funny. That comes across in the book.”  

Jo Anderson, Director of External Affairs at SAMH, said: “Knowing how important it can be to open up and talk we hope people who read these works will be encouraged to start their conversation.”

READ MORE: SAMH call for mental health councillors in every school.