Papers of James Lorimer Halliday, 1897-1983, 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, 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 to study medicine, graduating MB ChB in 1920. After some time spent working in hospitals, a general practice in St Andrews, Scotland and as a ship's 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

Access to certain records within this collection is restricted due to the sensitive and personal nature of the records in accordance with data protection legislation. Please email Archives and Special Collections for advice:

Acquisition Information

Gift : James Halliday : 1985 : GLASC ACCN 2489

Other Finding Aids

Conditions Governing Use

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents. Applications for permission to quote should be sent to Archives and Special Collections, please email:

Appraisal Information

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

Custodial History

Held by James Lorimer Halliday


None expected