The "truly one-off" co-founder of the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh, Jim Haynes, has died at the age of 87.

Louisiana-born Haynes, known as being a pivotal character in the evolution of the Edinburgh festivals, also opened the first paper-back only bookshop in the UK - which was set up in Edinburgh's George Square in 1959 and soon became a celebrated hotspot for performance and art.

Traverse Theatre have paid tribute to the legend, saying: "We are heartbroken to hear of the passing of the legendary internationalist, serial entrepreneur and one of the Traverse's founding spirits, Jim Haynes.

"Jim was truly a “one-off”.

Haynes, who arrived in Scotland after enlisting in the US air force, was also known for launching the infamous Writers Conference in 1962 with publisher John Calder, for the Edinburgh International Festival.

Meanwhile, 1963's follow-up Drama Conference made headlines around the world after a discussion exploring the "theatre of the future" featured a young nude model Anna Kesselaar being wheeled out across a balcony.

Charges of indecency went to trial but were later thrown out, and Ms Kesselaar was acquitted.


After a spell in London where he co-founded the International Times alternative newspaper and set up the Drury Lane Arts Lab, he relocated to Paris in 1969, where he lived for the rest of his life, teaching media studies and sexual politics for many years.

Three years ago, the theatre legend was also awarded an honourary doctorate from Napier University, in recognition of his contribution to drama and cultural life.

Traverse Theatre's tribute went on: "We are honoured to be a custodian of Jim’s legacy and his pioneering spirit which lives on through our work, and in our commitment to creating opportunities for boundary-breaking new artistic voices.

"Around sixty years ago, Jim’s ambition and artistic vision significantly helped shape Edinburgh’s outward-looking, contemporary cultural landscape, bringing a Festival City to the world and the world to Edinburgh.

"We are proud that this continues to be a key part of the Traverse year-round mission as we look toward our future.

"Our thoughts are with his family, loved ones and the very many people he inspired, and whose lives he influenced and enriched."