Papers of Tom Scott (1918-1995)

Scope and Content

Collection is composed of circa 100 letters from between 1956 and the late-1970s.

Administrative / Biographical History

The poet, Tom Scott, was born in Glasgow on 6 June 1918. He was the son of a Clydeside boilermaker. In the Depression years of the 1930s, the family moved from Glasgow to St. Andrews where an uncle of Tom had a stonemason's business. After a brief apprenticeship to a butcher, Tom became an apprentice stonemason. His poetic spirit first manifested itself in his singing voice (described variously as tenor, or bass). During the Second World War, although a pacifist, he contributed to the war effort - believing that fascism had to be fought against - through his service in the Pay Corps. It was at this time he began to write poetry.

Scott's earlier work was in English, and after the war, settling in London, his circle included Kathleen Raine, and Dylan Thomas. Visits to Europe encouraged his Scots poetic voice and he translated the 15th century work of the French poet Villon into Scots. Other work included Sea dirge, The ship, The tree, The dity business, and Brand the builder. In 1966 he completed a Ph.D on the work of William Dunbar which appeared as a book, and he edited The Penguin book of Scottish verse (1970). In 1963, Scott had married Heather Fretwell and they wrote children's books. Their home was in the Portobello district of Edinburgh.

In the 1980s, he contracted myeloma, a rare form of leukaemia, but he survived this. Tom Scott died in Edinburgh Royal Infirmary on 7 August 1995.

Access Information

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Acquisition Information

Accession No: E95.02. Acquired January 1995.


The biographical/administrative history was compiled using the following material: (1) Hendry, Joy. 'Gazette Obituaries Tom Scott'. [newspaper cutting unknown title, undated]. (2) Cookson, William. 'Obituaries Gazette Tom Scott'. The independent. 14 August 1995.

Other Finding Aids

None prepared for this collection

Archivist's Note

Compiled by Graeme D Eddie, Edinburgh University Library, Special Collections.