James Bridie

James Bridie in 1913

James Bridie (3 January 1888 in Glasgow – 29 January 1951 in Edinburgh) was the pseudonym of the renowned Scottish playwright, screenwriter and physician whose real name was Osborne Henry Mavor.[1][2][3][4][5] He took his pen-name from his paternal grandfather's first name and his grandmother's maiden name.[5]


He was the son of Henry Alexander Mavor (1858–1915), an electrical engineer and industrialist, and his wife Janet Osborne.[6][7] He went to school at Glasgow Academy and then studied medicine at the University of Glasgow graduating in 1913,[8] later becoming a general practitioner, then consultant physician and professor after serving as military doctor during World War I, seeing service in France and Mesopotamia.[9] His comedic plays saw success in London, and he became a full-time writer in 1938. He returned to the army during World War II, again serving as a doctor.[1]

James Bridie was the founder of the Citizens Theatre[10][11] in Glasgow, in association with joint founders art director Dr Tom Honeyman and cinema magnate George Singleton, who also created the Cosmo, predecessor of today`s Glasgow Film Theatre.

James Bridie was the first chairman of the Arts Council in Scotland and was also instrumental in the establishment of the Edinburgh Festival.[5] In 1950 he founded the Glasgow College of Dramatic Art, part of the Royal Conservatoiretoday.

Bridie worked with the director Alfred Hitchcock in the late 1940s. They worked together on:

In 1923, he married Rona Locke Bremner (1897–1985). Their son was killed in World War II.[1] His other son Ronald (1925–2007) was also both a physician and playwright.[12] Ronald became drama critic of The Scotsman after retiring from medicine, Director of the Scottish Arts Council and Deputy Chairman of the Edinburgh Festival.[5] He was Professor of Drama and Head of the Drama Department at the University of Saskatchewan and was appointed C.B.E. in 1971.[5]

James Bridie died in Edinburgh of a stroke and is buried in Glasgow Western Necropolis.[5] The Bridie Library at the Glasgow University Union is named after him, as is the annual Bridie Dinner that takes place in the Union each December.[13]

Actress Freya Mavor is his great-granddaughter.


  • Some Talk of Alexander (1926), book, his experiences as an army doctor
  • The Sunlight Sonata or To Meet the Seven Deadly Sins (1928) published under the pseudonym Mary Henderson, directed by Tyrone Guthrie
  • The Switchback (1929), with James Brandane
  • What It Is to Be Young (1929)
  • The Girl Who Did Not Want to Go to Kuala Lumpur (1930)
  • The Pardoner's Tale (1930)
  • Tobias and the Angel (1930)[14]
  • The Amazed Evangelist (1931)
  • The Anatomist (1931) (dramatisation of the historical Burke and Hare murders)
  • The Dancing Bear (1931)
  • Jonah and the Whale (1932)
  • A Sleeping Clergyman (1933)
  • Marriage Is No Joke (1934)
  • Colonel Witherspoon or The Fourth Way of Greatness (1934)
  • Mary Read (with Claude Gurney) (1934)
  • The Tragic Muse (1934)
  • The Black Eye (1935)
  • Storm in a Teacup (Adaptation) (1936) Based on Bruno Frank's Sturm im Wasserglas
  • Susannah and the Elders (1937)
  • The King of Nowhere (1938)
  • Babes in the Wood (1938)
  • The Last Trump (1938)
  • The Kitchen Comedy Radio play, (1938)
  • The Letter Box Rattles (1938)
  • One Way of Living (1939) – Autobiography[15]
  • What Say They? (1939)
  • The Sign of the Prophet Jonah Radio play (1942) Adaption of Jonah and the Whale
  • The Dragon and the Dove or How the Hermit Abraham Fought the Devil for His Niece (1943)
  • Jonah 3 (1942) Revised version of Jonah and the Whale
  • Holy Isle (1942)
  • A Change for the Worse 1943
  • Mr. Bolfry 1943
  • Tedious and Brief (1944)
  • Lancelot 1945[16]
  • Paradise Enow 1945
  • The Pyrate's Den (1946) unpublished, written under the pseudonym Archibald P. Kellock
  • Gog and Magog 1948
  • It Depends What You Mean 1949
  • The Forrigan Reel Ballad opera 1949
  • Dr. Angelus 1949
  • John Knox 1949
  • Daphne Laureola 1949[17]
  • The Golden Legend of Shults 1949
  • Mr. Gillie 1950[18]
  • The Queen's Comedy 1950[19]
  • Folly to be Wise 1952
  • The Baikie Charivari or The Seven Prophets 1953
  • Meeting at Night (With Archibald Batty) 1954
  • (Adaptation) The Wild Duck. Based on Vildanden by Henrik Ibsen
  • (Adaptation) Liliom Based on Ferenc Molnár's play of the same name
  • (Adaptation) Hedda Gabler by Henrik Ibsen
  • (Adaptation) The Misanthrope Based on Le Misanthrope by Molière


  • "Boredom is a sign of satisfied ignorance, blunted apprehension, crass sympathies, dull understanding, feeble powers of attention, and irreclaimable weakness of character."


  1. ^ a b c d e Daniel Leary (1982) Dictionary of Literary Biography: Modern British Dramatists 1900-1945, Stanley Weintraub Ed., Gale, Detroit ISBN 0-8103-0937-8
  2. ^ Terence Tobin (1980) James Bridie (Osborne Henry Mavor), Twayne Publishers, Boston ISBN 978-0805767865
  3. ^ Winifred Bannister (1955) James Bridie and His Theatre: a study of James Bridie's personality, his stage plays, and his work for the foundation of a Scottish national theatre, Rockliff
  4. ^ Helen L. Luyben (1965) James Bridie: Clown and Philosopher, University of Pennsylvania Press
  5. ^ a b c d e f Ronald Mavor (1988) Dr. Mavor and Mr. Bridie: Memories of James Bridie, Canongate and The National Library of Scotland ISBN 978-0862411985
  6. ^ Hutchison, David. "Mavor, Osborne Henry". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/34950. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  7. ^ "Henry Alexander Mavor - Graces Guide". www.gracesguide.co.uk.
  8. ^ https://www.universitystory.gla.ac.uk/biography/?id=WH0204&type=P
  9. ^ "Captain Osborne Henry Mavor". Glasgow University. Retrieved 16 May 2014.
  10. ^ http://www.arthurlloyd.co.uk/Glasgow/Citizens.htm
  11. ^ https://www.theglasgowstory.com/image/?inum=TGSA00277&t=2
  12. ^ Helensburgh Heroes
  13. ^ "James Bridie Memorial. University Ceremonies". The Glasgow Herald. 21 November 1955. p. 6. Retrieved 25 October 2017.
  14. ^ Kenneth Hardacre (1960) James Bridie's "Tobias and the Angel" (Chosen Eng. Texts Notes), Andrew Brodie Publications, London – Study Guide for students of the play
  15. ^ Catalog of Copyright Entries. Part 1. (1940) Library of Congress
  16. ^ "Glasgow First Night of Bridie's "Best Play"". The Glasgow Herald. 31 October 1945. p. 5. Retrieved 15 November 2017.
  17. ^ Billboard Vol.62, No.39 (Sep 30, 1950)
  18. ^ "Bridie Play Premier". The Glasgow Herald. 10 February 1950. p. 3. Retrieved 5 May 2018.
  19. ^ "Bridie Wit and Philosophy Among the Gods". The Glasgow Herald. 22 August 1950. p. 3. Retrieved 5 May 2018.

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