Papers of James Lorimer Halliday, d.1983, medical doctor and playwright

Scope and Content

  • Degree and professional certificates, including those of Halliday's wife, Beryl Grieve 1920-1971
  • Theatre programmes and play scripts for plays written by Halliday 1927-1929
  • Offprints and drafts of medical articles by Halliday and others 1935-1965 (many undated)
  • Medical pamphlets and reports 1920-1957
  • Press cuttings regarding medical matters 1927-1968
  • Press cuttings regarding plays by Halliday 1927
  • Correspondence 1933-1969
  • Medical case notes 1949
  • Medical research notes and book draft 1969 (many undated)
  • Correspondence regarding Halliday's obituary in the British medical journal 1983
  • Lists of publication by Halliday, undated; draft stories, plays and poetry by Halliday, undated; material relating to research into the Scots language, its pronunciation and a series of lessons written by Halliday for its teaching

Administrative / Biographical History

James Lorimer Halliday was born in Dumfries, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland. He was educated at Dumfries Academy where he studied classics with the intention of going on to do an Arts degree. However, he entered the University of Glasgow, Scotland, to study medicine, graduating MB ChB in 1920 . After some time spent working in hospitals, a general practice in St Andrews, Fife, Scotland and as a ships surgeon, Halliday began work at Ruchill Fever Hospital, Glasgow. Here his discovery of the sugar curve in cerebrospinal fluid led to his proceeding MD with high commendation in 1925. Halliday joined the public health service in Glasgow and eventually became regional medical officer with the Department of Health for Scotland.

For much of his professional life he was engaged in assessing disabilities and investigating claims for health benefits but he applied his deductive and intuitive mind to the problems he encountered and the reasons as to why people got ill the way they did. His careful investigations and statistical appraisals confirmed his ideas on the role of social and emotional factors in physical disorders. His first paper on the theme, on psychological factors in rheumatism, was published in 1937 and was followed by a series of highly original studies into asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, disability in miners and the relations between the prevalence of psychosomatic disorder and the falling birthrate.

He depended his understanding by undergoing analytical training of both Freudian and Jungian persuasions and held a part-time appointment as a psychotherapist at the Lansdown Clinic in Glasgow. The notion that a public health administrator should also be a practising physician and that the latter should be a competent psychotherapist was to him self evident and central to his holistic view of medicine.

Halliday was a founding member of the Glasgow Psychosomatic Society and its honorary president for 25 years. His book, Mr Carlyle, My Patient (1949), a biography of a Victorian whose chronic dyspepsia Halliday investigated along psychosomatic line reflected a lifelong interest in history, literature and poetry. This also found an outlet through the writing of a number of plays which were subsequently performed locally, including The Manse in the Muddle and Dark Glass. James Halliday died in 1983.

Source: British Medical Journal Obituary, 1983


The arrangement of this material reflects the original order in which it was received

Access Information

Medical case notes are closed subject to current Data Protection legislation. Contact the Keeper of Special Collections in the first instance.

Acquisition Information

Gift : estate of James Halliday : 1985 : ACCN 2489

Other Finding Aids

Item level descriptions are available via the department's online manuscripts catalogue available at  searching by the call number MS Gen 1669

Alternative Form Available

No known copies

Archivist's Note

Compiled by David Powell, Hub Project Archivist, February 2003

No alterations made to date

Conditions Governing Use

Applications for permission to quote should be sent to the Keeper of Special Collections

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

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with standard GB 247 procedures

Custodial History

Held by James Lorimer Halliday


None expected

Related Material

No related material

Corporate Names