Papers and correspondence of David Rutherford Adams, doctor, from Osborne Henry Mavor, doctor, playwright and administrator, 1908-1950

Scope and Content

This collection consists of material dated between 1908 and 1950. It relates to the years spent by both playwright Osborne Henry Mavor and David Rutherford Adams at Glasgow University, and Mavor's subsequent correspondence with David Rutherford Adams. It includes many caricatures drawn by Mavor, some of himself and of fellow students. It also includes some correspondence to David's son John, and two letters to a Miss Ella Strathie.

  • Letters, caricatures, and Christmas cards designed and sent by Osborne Henry Mavor 1908-1946
  • Caricatures and programmes by Osborne Henry Mavour 1909-1950
  • 9 copies of the Glasgow University Magazine with cover designs by Osborne Henry Mavor 1907-1908

Administrative / Biographical History

David Rutherford Adams was born in Glasgow, Scotland in 1887, the son of a timber merchant. He attended Glasgow University as a medical student between 1904 and 1910, where he met and formed a lifelong friendship with fellow medical student Osborne Henry Mavor.

Osborne Henry Mavor CBE was born in Glasgow in 1888, graduating from Glasgow University with a medical degree in 1913. He served with the Royal Army Medical Corps in both World Wars and acted as a consultant physician to the Victoria Infirmary, as well as lecturing at the Anderson College of Glasgow, having settled in Glasgow in 1919, and marrying in 1923.

Mavor became better known however as a playwright and administrator, playing a key role in the promotion of the Arts in Scotland. He was chairman of what later became the Scottish Arts Council, and founded the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre in 1943. He was also instrumental in founding the first college of drama in Scotland in 1950, and worked hard to promote events such as the Edinburgh Festival.

Mavor's first play, The Sunlight Sonata , (produced in 1928) was written under the pseudonym of Mary Henderson. He adopted the pseudonym of 'James Bridie' in his subsequent works such as The Switchback (1929), and What It Is To Be Young (1929). The Anatomist , produced in 1930, and based on the lives of nineteenth century vivisectionist Dr. Robert Knox, and the body-snatchers Burke and Hare, was his first major success. This success continued throughout the 1930s and 40s with, amongst others, Jonah and the Whale (1932), Susannah and the Elders (1937), Mr Bolfry (1943), The Forrigan Reel (1944) and The Queen's Comedy (1950).

Mavor wrote over 40 plays in his lifetime. In 1939 he was awarded an honorary LL.D from Glasgow University, and received his CBE in 1946. He died in Edinburgh in 1951.


The material is arranged into three series as described in the scope and content. Within these series the material is arranged chronologically.

Access Information


Acquisition Information

Gift from family member : October 2001 : ACCN 2121

Other Finding Aids

Digital and manual file level list available in searchroom

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the University Archivist

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use & condition of documents

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 248 procedures

Custodial History

Held by the family of David Rutherford Adams


None expected

Related Material

GB 233 Acc 11309-10, 11907 Correspondence and papers of Osborne Henry Mavor (National Library of Scotland Manuscripts division)

GB 247 Playscripts, press cuttings, speeches, articles and letters (c400) relating to Citizens Theatre by Osborne Henry Mavor


No known publications using this material

Additional Information

This material is original

Compiled by David Powell, 20 December 2001

No revisions made to date

Geographical Names