TRIBUTES have been paid to “legendary internationalist” and “serial entrepreneur” Jim Haynes, one of the most important figures in the evolution of Edinburgh Festivals.

He was the co-founder of Traverse Theatre and responsible for events in the 60s that helped shape the capital as one of the most culturally significant cities in the world.

Louisiana-born Haynes arrived in Scotland in the 50s while serving in the US Air Force, opening the UK’s first Paperback Bookshop in George Square in Edinburgh in 1959, shortly after being demobbed.

He helped organise the 1962 international writers’ conference, where 70 of the world’s most celebrated writers came to Scotland to discuss the world of literature.

Writers including Norman Mailer, William Burroughs, Hugh MacDiarmid, Arthur Miller, Muriel Spark and Alexander Trocchi spent one week discussing a different literary theme each day.

In 1963, he founded the then Traverse Theatre Club with John Calder, Kenneth Tynan and Richard Demarco. Initially based in an abandoned brothel in Edinburgh’s Lawnmarket, it focused on new writing. Haynes staged 31 world premieres in its first two years.

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Linda Crooks, executive producer of the Traverse, paid tribute: “We’re heartbroken to hear of the passing of the legendary internationalist, serial entrepreneur and one of our founding spirits. Jim Haynes was truly a ‘one-off’.

“We’re 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.

“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.”

Playwright David Greig said: “So very sad to hear of the passing of Jim Haynes who shaped Scottish theatre culture, Edinburgh culture and frankly created a global culture of mischief, invention, joy and connection. Jim was a gift to Scotland from America – he will be greatly missed.

Author Ian Rankin tweeted: “Ah, Jim Haynes. A true one-off and so important to Edinburgh’s culture and counter-culture. I hope wherever he is, he’s planning one of his open-house dinners ...”

In 1966 Haynes moved to London where he co-founded the International Times alternative newspaper. The following year he set up the Drury Lane Arts Lab, which hosted familiar faces such as David Bowie, John Lennon and Yoko Ono and spawned a new generation of artists, filmmakers, writers and directors.

He’d been living in Paris since 1969, where he held open dinners every Sunday. An estimated 130,000 people joined in.

He returned to Edinburgh, for the festival just about every year.