It is with great sadness that I have to report the recent death of Fionna Eden-Bushell, the daughter of Annabel Carothers and granddaughter of Annabel and John Harper-Nelson. She leaves her husband,Mark , daughters Abby, Lucetta and Iona and many grandchildren
Hello,fellow MacCormicks and other readers.
As you must know by now, this web site is run under the WordPress system. As a writer, I can say that the system works very well.
I thought that you might want to know how your visits to my site are recorded and reported to me.
First, anonymity is paramount. Your name and other personal information is never revealed to me automatically — only
-when you FOLLOW my site
– when you LIKE my entry.
– when you COMMENT on my articles, ask a question, etc
The information made available otherwise to me is restricted to:
- the country you are are inter-netting from.
- the articles visited.
- search terms used and search engines.
- how many visits and views were made each day from each country,
Not surprisingly, visits from UK readers are in the majority, followed by those in the USA and Australia. Intriguing visitors pop up now and again from, say, Portugal and Russia.
But again I have no idea who they are unless readers COMMENT, LIKE or FOLLOW.
And to my puzzlement, only a few readers have chosen to add a comment or otherwise display interest. One could surmise that my entries are perfect in every way and raise no question. One could also surmise that a visitor reads my stuff once, and never returns, being completely bored or appalled by the content.
On the other hand, in this age of complete transparency and lack of privacy on the Web, perhaps my visitors eagerly welcome the WordPress policy of first line concealment of personal information.
Of course you can email me direct at email@example.com thus avoiding any public display.
Anyway, my visitors, whoever and wherever you are, I hope you keep coming back, and more important that you are better informed about THE MACCORMICK FAMILY by my scribblings.
Most of the information in my account of The MacCormicks is from internet entries. Very little has been obtained directly from the subjects, most for obvious reasons. Thus the Next or the Fourth Generation which is still making its way in this life, has not had time to make its mark – or my internet searches are not deep nor informed enough. The one exception is portrayed below.
At a MacCormick family event some years ago, I had a chance to speak with a grandson of John MacDonald MacCormick. He told me he hoped to continue his career in music composition by studying for a doctorate. The choice of institution was still under review. He explained that Glasgow University was a natural choice because the MacCormick name was held in such high regard there. The other possibility was The Royal Conservatoire, also in Glasgow.
Scroll forward several years and meet DR JOHN (RAFFAELE) DE SIMONE, son of the late Armando and of Elspeth De Simone (sister of Professor Sir Donald Neil MacCormick). Not only did he earn a doctoral degree from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and St Andrews University but he is a member of the RCS faculty. Herewith that institution’s website entry for John.
JOHN DE SIMONE
“John De Simone (1974, Aylesbury, England) is a Glasgow based composer, educator and researcher. He studied postgraduate composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal Conservatoire, The Hague where he graduated with distinction. He gained his PhD from the University of St Andrews and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in 2010, where he is currently the Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Officer
“He has enjoyed regular commissions throughout his career and has written for numerous groups including the BBC SSO, The Edinburgh Quartet, Red Note Ensemble, Aurelia Sax Quartet, the Mondriaan String Quartet, Percussion Group The Hague, Ensemble Klang and the New Juilliard Ensemble. His music has been performed in several major festivals including, Verona Risuona, FUSELeeds, BBC Tectonics, Spitalfields, Gaudeamus and Gothenberg GAS festival.
“He also enjoys interdisciplinary collaboration and his work with Fish and Game on Alma Mater received international acclaim and coverage as the world’s first piece of IPad theatre, and went on to tour internationally from London to Melbourne.
“He is currently director of Ensemble Thing, which he founded in 2004 which has become one of the most unique leading new music groups in Scotland, having performed internationally, commissioned a great deal of new work and received wide critical acclaim.”
An article in The Herald is most appropriate for inclusion here especially because of its reference to the MACCORMICK family tie.
copyright Kate Molleson
First published in The Herald on 19 October, 2016
“Sound — Scotland’s festival of new music, a two-and-a-half-week series of concerts in and around Aberdeen — has announced John De Simone as its inaugural Composer in Residence. What that means in practical terms is yet to be worked out; mainly, it seems a welcome statement of support for a composer whose music is courageous and singular and very much worth hearing. This year’s festival features De Simone’s solo cello piece Misremembrance (performed by Robert Irvine on October 22) and his string quartet Intimacy (performed by the Edinburgh Quartet on October 27). It also features a new piece for Red Note Ensemble, to be premiered on October 29 alongside Louis Andriessen’s epoch-defining 1970s work De Staat.
“The pertinence of Andriessen’s music in general, and of De Staat in particular, becomes increasingly evident during our interview. Andriessen has explained that he wrote De Staat (The Republic) “as a contribution to the debate about the relation of music to politics. Many composers view the act of composing as somehow above social conditioning. I contest that.” De Simone contests that, too, wholeheartedly, and much of his music looks for ways to demonstrate exactly the opposite.
“The name of his new work is The F Scale — not some music theory in-joke, but a reference to a 1947 personality test devised by the cultural theorist Theodore Adorno. Essentially, Adorno wanted to expose levels of authoritarianism among ordinary Americans (the ‘F’ stands for ‘fascism’) and he came up with a series of statements to which interviewees responded with ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’. An example: ‘The true American way of life is disappearing so fast that force may be necessary to preserve it’. De Simone’s piece sets ten of these statements to music, and he felt it was only fair to try out the questions on himself. “Turns out I’m not very fascist,” he concluded.
“Which doesn’t come as much of a revelation. De Simone’s grandfather was John MacCormick, a founder of the SNP, and in 2014 the composer wrote a piece called Independence that premiered in Glasgow the night before the referendum and told a very personal story about his own family and political identity. “Every other artform had something to say about the referendum but the classical community was hardly talking about it,” he recalls. “The piece wasn’t a rant or anything. It was about how we belong rather than where we belong.”
“elonging is another recurring theme in our conversation. Despite his SNP roots De Simone grew up in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, as a tuba-playing heavy metalist: try that for early identity crisis, he jokes. His mother was a nurse who had moved to England to study; she met his father, an Italian immigrant from Naples, when he got a job cleaning hospital floors. De Simone senior was a self-taught violinist who had spent the 1950s playing tangos in Neapolitan cafes. He couldn’t make much sense of contemporary music but was proud when his son started composing. “He always asked why I couldn’t just write a beautiful tune,” De Simone smiles. “Actually, I can see that.”
“TDe Simone started playing violin when he was two — “I wasn’t hothoused or anything, but my parents bought me a tiny violin because they noticed me listening so intently. My dad had a record of the Bruch and Mendelssohn violin concertos. Apparently I responded amazingly to the Mendelssohn and really negatively to the Bruch. It would probably still be my reaction.” By 8 he wanted to be in the brass bands he heard at his local music centre and his parents bought him a trumpet. “But I couldn’t hit the top notes and I was a big lad, so the band put me on the tuba.” Turned out tuba players were a rare commodity in Buckinghamshire and he found himself in high demand: marching bands, silver bands, brass bands, dance bands, wind bands, orchestras.
“Music was always a participatory thing for De Simone: “I used to hate any music except for the music I played.” When his ears were duly blasted open by Guns N’ Roses at the age of 15 (“I got a tape of Appetite for Destruction and thought Sweet Child of Mine was written for me”) he scraped together £80 to buy a shoddy Les Paul copy and a DiMarzio super distortion pickup and relaunched himself as a guitarist in the Aylesbury band scene. “Although I wasn’t very good,” he shakes his head, “and I got kicked out of the band. Actually, they split up and reformed without me.” Creative differences, though he suspects it also had to do with the fact he couldn’t grow his hair long because his job at McDonalds made him cut it, and he couldn’t afford a leather jacket.”
“The tactile connection with music was always important. He would sit at the piano and bash out Bach scores — “it would take me about an hour to get through a piece, but really all that hacking through stuff that was way too hard for me was my way of trying to get into the music in a tangible way. I’m not a listener. I love to be involved at my own pace. I didn’t realise that actually I was training to be a composer.”
“He moved to Edinburgh to study at St Mary’s Music School then went to Cardiff University. By this point he was composing in torrents — “composing like it was mainlining into me,” he says. “I was staying up until 5 in the morning. I composed trumpet concerto, a symphony.” The heavy metalism had dissipated when grunge came along in the 1990s (“and matured us metal-heads into something more socially acceptable”). Then came techno and he started going to clubs. “Clubbing until 2, composing until 5. Sleep was rare. I wasn’t a good student. Sometimes your best teachers are your friends.”
“He discovered Andriessen’s music in 1998 and loved the energy and directness — so much so that he would end up moving to The Hague for four years. “The politics was what got me,” he says. “The fact this music was grounded in the community. That a composer could be an active participant. That the music I wrote could have agency. That a grass roots musical movement could express the ideology of the 1960s. Until then I hadn’t known any of that was possible. After four years my teacher told me I should go home and find my own version of the Holland School.”
“Which brings us back to the Sound residency, and to The F Scale. “We are all politically articulate in a way we never were before,” De Simone says. “It is viscerally important right now. As a musician I have to have a part of that. The parameters of what art music or contemporary music are? That’s irrelevant. I’m a creative person and these are difficult times. I think my music should engage. Right now we’re in the thick of it, and there are things that need to be said.”
Sound festival runs October 20 – November 6
This entry was posted in Features on October 19, 2016.
© Kate Molleson, 2018. All Rights Reserved
You can also read about John’s appointment as composer in residence with Sound Scotland http://sound-scotland.co.uk/explore/composer-in-residence-john-de-simone
You can listen to John’s music on soundmusic.com.
Relying on the internet for most of my information, my pieces have covered only through most of the fourth generation following NEIL/ANNABELLA. Saying that, I am sure I have missed family members whose endeavors in this life should be recorded.
PLEASE LET ME KNOW OF ANY OMISSIONS.
However, I strongly believe that the next edition, if any, should be an all-inclusive fully annotated genealogical/biographical work. Linda Towne’s products could provide the framework for such a collection. Thus the ‘good and the great’ would be seen in the full context. of a very large family tapestry.
I welcome your thoughts on this and suggestions for setting up an apparatus for continuing this endeavor, IF THE DEMAND IS THERE – IF YOU BELIEVE THERE IS VALUE FOR YOUR FAMILY IN SUCH A PRODUCT. .
This photograph of the choir includes family members: Aunt Anna at extreme right rear; Aunt Mary in army [ATS] uniform helping narrow the photograph dating, middle back row; Aunt Isobel, wearing glasses back row; Aunt Clemmie, at extreme left, rear; and my sisters seated front row from extreme right, Morag and Fiona
Here is a program from one of the many concerts given by the choir including solo voice and piano student performances .
In Australia, my cousin, Avril Robinson, daughter of my Uncle Andy and Aunt Zelma, has continued the NEIL LINE choral tradition by singing with the Gold Coast City Choir in Queensland.
My sisters, Morag and Fiona, have sung with a Sweet Adelines group in the chorus and in quartets on Long Island New York while living in East Hampton. Here is a glamorous photograph of them readying for a performance. Morag is second and Fiona third from the left.
WILLIAM MACCORMICK was born in 1868 on the Isle of Iona, the seventh-born of the family of Annabel and Neil MacCormick.He died in 1915 in an accident on board HMS Hannibal while serving as Chief Engine Room Artificer 1st Class in the Royal Navy.
In addition to his professional engineering life, William expressed his feelings in verse, perhaps inspired by his brother John’s literary activities. Here is his powerful view of the 1854 Battle of Balaclava, which I think has relevance in today’s crazed world. I assume he was inspired by a visit to the site of that battle while serving in the Royal Navy. He must have despaired when World War One broke out.
“A Mull Man in the Crimea
On Balaclava field I soul-moving thought!
Those are the very hills and these the very plains;
Twas here that nations for the mastery fought –
And that same golden orb that silent reigns
Shed not its light on peaceful labouring swains,
And laughing in the fruitful harvest’s gains –
His beams lit up no scene of peace or joy,
But marshalled serried armies panting to destroy.
And now the mighty cannons roar and flash,
And vomit forth their flame and shrieking shell;
Deep columns move and mounted squadrons dash,
The walkin vibrates with the battle’s knell.
The earth resembles now a smoking hell,
A reeking shambles; blood and murder rife;
A comrade closes where a comrade fell-
Blaspheming as he renders up his life-
The battle moves in fierce untiring strife.
The peaceful valley smiles neath God’s glad sun;
The autumn breezes whisper soft and low.
Among the rustling leaves. Sweet streamlets run
Their wimpling courses, singing as they flow,
In haste to join the rippling bay below.
The voice of labour wakes in cheerful strain
the slumb’ring echoes. Nature’s all aglow;
The sheen spreads o’er the wooded hills and plains
A happy, joyous scene where peace transcendent reigns.
Reign gentle peace, though blessed angel reign!
Long may the nations know thy hallowed sway.
Soothe thou to sleep those passions fierce and vain
Which make deluded man his brother slay.
Oh! light within our hearts a kindlier ray,
Let reason take the place of bloodly steel.
Our darkness then will change to gladsome day.
And outraged God will smile, His hand will heal
The deep and rankling wounds which mar the nations’ weal.”
In the normal scheme of things, I try to keep some chronological order. Here, I choose to continue with a salute to the work of a contemporary member of the William Line –
Linda Towne, a great granddaughter of William, has for many years labored in the parish records and other genealogical sources to bring calm to our attempts to make sense of the challenging network created by NEIL AND ANNABEL MACCORMICK’S ten surviving children. And Linda has managed to accomplish this while raising her own family.
I doubt that there are any readers of this series who have not gratefully referred to Linda’s body of work. But for the record, the results of her toil can be found principally at:
Moving back a generation but staying with Linda’s paternal line, the role of the military in the William line is seen in her father’s biography prepared by Linda. It is an account of great bravery and remarkable military skill, not to mention good fortune.
Neil MacCormick was born on 10 March 1925 at Floriana, Malta. He was baptized on 1 April 1925 at Malta.11 He began military service on 11 January 1943 at Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, in the Infantry Corps. He was assigned to the GSC at home from 18 February 1943 to 30 Mar 1943. This was probably his basic training assignment. He was assigned to the Highland Regiment from 31 March 1943 to 9 Jun 1943. He was assigned to Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders-from 10 June 1943 to 20 July 1943. He was assigned to the Gordon Highlanders at home and in Europe from 21 July 1943 to 4 July 1949. With the First Battalion Gordon Highlanders he landed on Sword beach during the D-Day invasions as part of the British 2nd Army, I Corps, 1st Infantry Division, Gordon Highlanders on 6 June 1944
Neil rarely spoke of his experiences during World War II but he did consent to an interview by his daughter, Linda, for a school assignment. The following essay was the result.
“He was only nineteen and a private in the Royal Army. On D-Day he landed with the Gordon Highlanders. In the months following the invasion, he was lucky enough to survive. At one town, the German troops had completely surrounded the regiment. Their supplies were cut off. He, with two machine gunners, drove a Bren gun carrier through German roadblocks and barricades to get food and other needed supplies. On their way back in, they crashed though the same roadblocks.
Over one thousand British soldiers were either wounded or killed while capturing the town of Liseux. Five hundred and fifty men fought the first day. Seven were alive and unharmed at the end. The next day, reinforcements arrived to bring the group up to full strength; only nine weren’t wounded that day. Only three people who had been there at the start survived unharmed to see victory.
“Having survived the battle at Liseux, he moved on. At one place there was a minefield separating the front line from the supplies. The soldiers were running out of ammunition, so they sent a Bren gun carrier across the field with more. The carrier hit a mine and blew up. The next five did the same. He drove the seventh and by some stroke of luck, made it across safely. Six more carriers were sent across with orders to follow his tracks exactly. None made it. Obviously he had driven across mines without them exploding.
“He went onto Holland where they were destroying dikes. Sent to evacuate supplies, he made several trips through rising water before the carrier drowned. He had to swim four miles to safety.
“Antwerp, Belgium had been liberated for some time and was used as a rest area for soldiers. He was sent there for two to three days to rest while a new Bren gun carrier was found for him.
“The first day he was there, he decided to go to the cinema to see a film. While he was there, the cinema was bombed! Out of over one thousand people inside, less than two hundred survived. He suffered a skull fracture, several broken ribs and a shattered knee. The blast also burned his eyes leaving him blind.
“He was taken to a Canadian hospital where he was treated. While he was there, a Canadian surgeon was posted there. This surgeon was one of only about a half dozen in the world who was qualified to do corneal transplants. The surgeon performed a corneal transplant on him. It didn’t take. He would have died quite happily. The surgeon didn’t give up and performed a second operation. When the bandages came off, he could see only shadows. He didn’t realise that the room had been darkened as not to shock the eyes after weeks of darkness. His eyes were back to normal and still were, over forty years later.
“He will never forget the night that his best friend died. He had known Dick since they had been in school together. They were dug into foxholes and Dick had come over to his foxhole and sat on the edge with his feet dangling into the hole. After talking to him for a while, Dick said that he’d have to say goodbye now and left. The strange thing was that Dick had been killed a half-hour before and it was his ghost that had gone over to say goodbye.
“Who was this soldier? He is my father, Neil MacCormick, and these are only some of the experiences that he had during World War II. Others include liberating a Nazi concentration camp and serving in the British Occupation troops in Germany.”
He was also one of only two people who landed on D-Day with the Gordon Highlanders who survived the rest of the war..12
“Neil MacCormick drove a bren gun carrier. It was a small, tracked weapons carrier which carried a .303 inch Bren light machine gun (modified and manufactured by Enfield), plus some other small arms..1
“For his service during World War II, Neil received the 1939-1945 Star; the France and Germany Star; the Defence Medal and the War Medal 1939-1945. He was transferred to the Royal Army Supply Corps in July 1949. He served in England until March 1952 when he was sent to Korea until November 1953. He then served in England again until being sent to Germany in february 1954 where he stayed until September 1957 when he returned to England. In November 1957, he went to Hong Kong and served there until October 1960. He once again returned to England until February 1964 when he was transfered to Cyprus.8 For his service in Korea, Neil was awarded the British Korea Medal and the U N Medal and Clasp Korea.13 Neil received the Queen Elizabeth II Coronation Medal in 1953.
“Neil’s friend, Bill Spooner, wrote: “One other incident, which I relate only because it resulted in one of the few occasions that I saw [Neil] disconcerted. He was doing a rather strong line with a rather pretty air hostess at the same time as he was friendly with a lady who owned a bar in Varosha. It rather upset his apple cart when he found out that the air hostess was the daughter of the bar lady!”.
He celebrated his 40th birthday, in March 1965, with friends including Lillian Spooner. While he was stationed in Cyprus, he transfered to the Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC) in July 1965. He returned to England in April 1967.
“Neil’s best friend, Bill Spooner, wrote ‘One event which could have ended both our careers was the result of a stupid decision by politician to invite a member of the Cyprus Government to the opening of the new water distillation plant, followed by a tour of the Garrison Headquarters. The person selected was the minister of the interior, one Polycarpos Giorgades. I had made something of a hobby of collecting posters of the EOKA period, so I was able to meet a request of [Neil’s] resulting in the offical party being confronted, on entering the H.Q. building with a 3 feet by 2 feet poster proclaiming ‘Wanted for murder, POLYCARPOS GIORGADES £10,000 reward’.,
“Another memory of Neil shared by his friend, Bill Spooner: ,Another, less hazardous, example of [Neil’s] sense of humour was at the expense of the two rather dim young 2nd Lieutenants who shared his office. They knew he had access to their confidential reports. And did their best to get a preview, with total lack of success. Tired of their clumsy efforts, Neil prepared two dummy reports and left them where his two young men were sure to find them. One said ‘works well under supervision, can ride a bicycle’ and the other, ‘sets very low standard, which he consistently fails to maintain.'”
“In July 1967, Neil MacCormick was described as being 6′ tall with a fresh complexion, brown eyes and black hair. He had a scar over his eye and a scar on his left hand.. On July 20, 1967, Neil was discharged from service for the purpose of being appointed to a commission. His rank at discharge was Warrent Officer 1 (SSM 1st Class). He had spent 24 years and 154 days on active duty and an additional 37 days in the reserve.
“Neil MacCormick was commissioned on July 21 1967. His first posting was to SHAPE in Belgium. On July 26, 1967, he received an assessment of military conduct as exemplary which was the highest possible rating. His commanding officer wrote: ‘Neil MacCormick is a smart upstanding individual of good appearance and presence. He has a quiet manner and obvious authority. He has been employed as a chief clerk for most of his army service but has not become desk-bound and would do well in a travelling executive position. He has a good organising ability and can express himself coherantly both verbally and in writing.’
“He was a Captain in the RAOC between 1969 and 1974.In June 1969, Neil MacCormick lived at Adamson Road, N.W. 3, London, England.
“His car almost got towed during his wedding ceremony. They were in the Registry Office , partway through the ceremony, when a man came in and asked if anyone owned the Rover parked in front because it was about to be towed. Neil said “I’ll be right back” and ran outside. He came back in, said he had explained what was going on and the tow-truck driver gave him a couple more minutes
“In February 1970, he was transferred to Shornecliffe England where he was the A/OIC BKS. In April 1971, he was transfered to Osnabruck, Germany to be the A/OIC BKS there. In April 1973, Neil was transferred to Munster, Germany as the OIC Barrack Office. Two months later, he was reassigned as OIC BKS Munster BK SVCS.1In 1974, Neil MacCormick lived at Winterbourne Barrack Services, Munster, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.
“Neil was promoted to Major on May 31st 1975.
“Neil was posted to Shorncliffe, Folkestone, England as the OIC Barracks BK SVCS. He had anticipated remaining there until retirement but he swapped assignments with another officer in April 1977 and went to Cyprus as the OIC Barracks BK SVCS so that officer could return to England with his ill wife.
“Neil received The Queen’s Silver Jubilee Medal in 1977. He was one of the only people to receive both the Coronation and Jubilee medals during military service. In June 1978, Neil was reassigned to OC ASU Cyprus. He ended military service in 1980.”
He then immigrated to the USA in March 1980 . He arrived at Boston’s Logan Airport. He was employed by Free Heat Insulation Company in the early 1980’s.4 He was was later employed by Williams and Manchester Shipyards. at Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island, USA. He was a front office worker for the Treadway hotel in 1986. He joined the Newport Artillery’s B Company in the late 1980’s.
In August 1988, Neil moved with his wife and children to 52 Allston Avenue, Middletown, Newport County, Rhode Island, USA.He was employed as a desk clerk at the Bay Voyage Inn in Jamestown, RI until his death.
Neil MacCormick died on 16 September 1989 at Newport Hospital, Newport, Newport County, Rhode Island, USA, at age 64.
His obituary reads:
“Retired British Army Maj. Neil MacCormick, 64, of 52 Allston Ave., died Saturday, Sept. 16, 1989, at Newport Hospital. He was the husband of Jean Maguire MacCormick.
He was born March 10, 1925, in Floriana, Malta, a son of Daisy Taylor MacCormick of Wallingford, England and the late Neil MacCormick.
Mr MacCormick came to the United States in 1980 after retiring from the British Army.
He worked as a desk clerk at the Bay Voyage Inn in Jamestown and also had worked for the Free Heat Insulation Co., the Williams and Manchester Shipyard, and the Treadway Inn.
“He was a World War II British army veteran, having landed with the First Battalion Gordon Highlander at Normandy on D-Day. He also served in the Korean War and later with the Royal Army Service Corps and Ordnance Corps. He served in Germany, Hong Kong, Cyprus and with SHAPE in Belgium.
Mr MacCormick was mentioned twice in dispatches while serving in Korea and was awarded the Coronation and Jubilee Medal.
“He was a member of the Newport Artillery’s B Company.
“In addition to his wife and his mother, he leaves three daughters, Barbara Grimm of Shiplake, England and Linda MacCormick and Jodi MacCormick, both of Newport; a brother, William MacCormick of Didcot, England; a sister, Annabelle Shillitto of Malvern, England; and two granddaughters.
His funeral will be Tuesday at 11.30 a.m. from the Memorial Funeral Home. Burial will be private..”
His body was cremated in September 1989 at East Greenwich, Rhode Island, USA.5 He was buried at Old Saints Church, Didcot, Oxfordshire, England, in the same plot as his maternal grandparents, Percival and Charlotte Taylor.
[A personal note. I met Linda’s father and grandfather, as mentioned in the first of the series, when I sat at our dinner table in Glasgow along with my own father and grandfather, a grand total of five Neil MacCormicks! And while I was stationed with the U.S. Army in northern Japan, my father wrote me to say my cousin had been wounded while fighting with UN forces in Korea. I attempted to get leave to see him in hospital in Tokyo but alas was turned down. I bring up that passing encounter only to take the opportunity to point out that there were very few times when I met the grandaunts and granduncles and their families during my youth in Glasgow which I left at age 17 in 1949. The disruption of World War Two of course partly explains the lack of contact.]
On looking over this MACCORMICK FAMILY series, I found that I produced the first segment back in January 2015. At that time, I recall I was more anxious to get material on the screen than to spend time developing a clear plan as to structure and content – my medical issues partly explain the haste. It began and has continued as ‘a work in progress’ – in other words, I pretty much let my as always free-wheeling mind run where it wanted.
As a result, I noted in that first part:
“…two figures are prominent in the MacCorm
ick family collection: John MacDonald MacCormick and his son, Professor Sir Donald Neil MacCormick. Because of the huge amount of data on the two available on the internet, I have chosen to give more space here to other family members whose activities may be less familiar.”
In retrospect, I now realise I erred in that decision particularly because in choosing that path, I inadvertently overlooked two other prominent family members of the DONALD LINE.
It saddens me to contemplate that all four, even the younger members, are no longer with us. And so I present here a Wikipedia article and three obituaries in order of death, of what most will agree is this leading group in the MACCORMICK pantheon – a son and three grandsons of DONALD MACCORMICK.
John M. MacCormick
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
MacCormick was born in Pollokshields, Glasgow, in 1904. His father was Donald MacCormick, a sea captain who was from the Isle of Mull. His mother was the first district nurse in the Western Isles. McCormick was educated at Woodside School, and studied law at the University of Glasgow (1923–1928). He became involved in politics while at university, and joined the Glasgow University Labour Club and the Independent Labour Party in 1923. In September 1927 MacCormick left the ILP and formed the Glasgow University Scottish Nationalist Association (GUSNA), which was designed to promote Scottish culture and nationalism and self-government. The association was sufficiently neutral to act as the honest broker between the various nationalist organisations which would merge to form the National Party of Scotland (NPS) in April 1928. MacCormick was a talented speaker and organiser, and served as the national secretary of the NPS. MacCormick was often known by his nickname “King John”, which he said came from a heckle during a debate he was participating in when upon a question from the floor whether a devolved Scotland would retain the monarchy, or would be a republic, someone interjected and said: “no, it will be a kingdom and John MacCormick will be our king.”
The failure of the NPS to make an electoral breakthrough led him to question current tactics and he concluded that the party’s fundamentalist wing was frightening away potential support because of its support for republicanism and independence. In consequence, MacCormick initiated a campaign to redefine the policy of the NPS, to make it more moderate and to tone down demands for independence. He first stood for Parliament as an NPS candidate at the 1929 general election, when he came third in Glasgow Camlachie, with 1,646 votes. He also stood at Inverness at the 1931 general election.
In 1932, MacCormick began to make overtures to the right-wing Scottish Party, believing that, as the Scottish Party included a number of members of the Scottish ‘establishment‘, their conversion to the cause of home rule would enhance the credibility of the nationalists. To secure an accommodation, MacCormick purged the NPS of radical elements, and moved the policy of the NPS towards that of the Scottish Party. His endeavours paid dividends, and in 1934 the two parties merged to form the Scottish National Party (SNP).HYPERLINK \l “cite_note-SLR-4” MacCormick himself was not a dogmatic politician, and described himself as a radical, by which he meant a form of centrist liberal. His response to the failure of the SNP to make an electoral impact in the mid-1930s was to search for alternative strategies. He considered the basic problem to be that, although many people in Scotland favoured home rule, they were not, on the whole, willing to put the issue above conventional party loyalties. The solution, MacCormick argued, was to make the other parties take home rule seriously, and to demonstrate widespread support for the cause. In 1939 he launched the idea of a Scottish national convention, which would bring together all sections of Scottish society and all shades of Scottish political opinion in favour of home rule. He had made contact with both the Labour and Liberal parties, and although the first meeting, scheduled for September 1939, was cancelled because of the outbreak of World War II, MacCormick pushed negotiations throughout the war.HYPERLINK \l “cite_note-SLR-4”
As a leading figure in the SNP, MacCormick came under increasing attack from the rank and file members for his failure to maintain party structure and organisation. He considered that his preferred strategy of co-operation with other organisations meant that there was little need for the SNP to function as a mainstream political party. He endeavoured to present an acceptable face of Scottish nationalism, and did much to reverse the party’s official anti-conscription policy following the outbreak of the Second World War.HYPERLINK \l “cite_note-SLR-4” MacCormick stood as an SNP candidate for Inverness at the 1935 general election and at the 1937 Glasgow Hillhead by-election.
He resigned from the party in 1942 following his failure to persuade the party to adopt a devolutionist stance rather than supporting all out Scottish independence and due to the victory of Douglas Young over his favoured candidate, William Power, for the leadership of the SNP. Along with a number of dissatisfied delegates to that year’s SNP conference, he established the Scottish Convention to campaign for home rule for Scotland and later formed the Scottish Covenant Association.
Scottish Convention, Scottish Covenant and later years
MacCormick took the decision to join the Liberal Party as he viewed them as being the party most closely allied to his devolutionist ambitions for Scotland. He stood as the Liberal candidate for Inverness at the 1945 general election.HYPERLINK \l “cite_note-SLR-4”
The Scottish Convention succeeded in 1947 in setting up an assembly along the lines planned in 1939. In 1951, MacCormick formed the Scottish Covenant Association, a non-partisan political organisation which campaigned to secure the establishment of a devolved Scottish Assembly. This covenant was hugely successful in securing support from across the political spectrum, as well as in capturing the Scottish public’s imagination (over 2 million signed a petition demanding the convocation of an Assembly, although a number of them were shown to be bogus). In 1948, he stood as an independent candidate at the Paisley by-election, with what he erroneously believed to be Liberal and Conservative support, and lost.HYPERLINK \l “cite_note-dnb-3” His failure discredited claims as to the popularity of home rule, and further served to reinforce notions that the Scottish Convention was an anti-Labour organisation. MacCormick’s failure left the SNP with a monopoly of the cause of home rule.HYPERLINK \l “cite_note-SLR-4”
MacCormick was elected Rector of the University of Glasgow in 1950 as GUSNA’s candidate, serving until 1953. He was also awarded an honorary Doctorate of Laws by the university in 1951. This association with GUSNA also saw the formation of a political friendship with a then young law student at Glasgow University, Ian Hamilton, who had run his campaign to be elected rector. MacCormick was involved, along with Hamilton, in the removal of the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey on Christmas Day 1950 and its return to Arbroath Abbey. He also mounted a legal challenge, MacCormick v. Lord Advocate, over the right of Queen Elizabeth using the title Queen Elizabeth II, on grounds that there had been no previous Scottish Queen Elizabeth.HYPERLINK \l “cite_note-SLR-4”
In 1955 MacCormick had a book detailing his activities in the home rule movement published, entitled The Flag in the Wind. His last attempt to enter parliament came at the 1959 General Election, when he stood for the Liberal Party at Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles, again finishing second.
MacCormick married Margaret Isobel Miller in 1939, with whom he had two sons and two daughters. Their elder son, Iain (1939–2014), served as SNP Member of Parliament for Argyll from 1974 till 1979 (and was a founder member of the Social Democratic Party. Their second son, Neil (1941–2009) was regius professor of Public Law and Vice-Principal of the University of Edinburgh, and served as an SNP Member of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2004. He was also the uncle of the journalist and broadcaster Donald MacCormick.
MacCormick died on 13 October 1961. His funeral was held in the chapel of the University of Glasgow.
Party political offices
|National Secretary of the Scottish National Party
|Rector of the University of Glasgow
Professor Sir Donald Neil MacCormick, Legal academic and politician 20:25 20:38 Monday 06 April 2009
Born: 27 May, 1941, in Glasgow. Died 5 April, 2009, in Edinburgh, aged 67. HE WAS of impeccable Nationalist pedigree, but there was nevertheless always a whiff of the Establishment about Professor Sir Neil MacCormick. The son of “King John” MacCormick, the Glasgow lawyer and leading Scottish Nationalist, Sir Neil followed him with distinction in both professions, although his geniality and generosity of spirit earned him friends across the political spectrum
Donald Neil MacCormick (he used Neil to differentiate him from a cousin called Donald) was the younger of two sons of John MacCormick and Margaret Miller, whom Sir Neil recalled as “a tower of strength” in a happy family life which also included two sisters. Despite juggling a large legal and political workload, John remained a “very engaged dad”, he said.
He was undoubtedly a major influence on Sir Neil. Growing up in a large flat overlooking Kelvingrove Park in Glasgow, he was surrounded by talk of Scotland and politics. “If you were a small boy or young teenager interested in political affairs,” Sir Neil later recalled, “simply assuming the role of an unobtrusive listener gave a great political education in a very particular kind of politics.” At first, however, Sir Neil chose a legal education, reading for an MA in philosophy and English literature at the University of Glasgow, before benefiting from a Snell Exhibition to take a BA in jurisprudence at Balliol College, Oxford, graduating from both with first-class honours. Few other students could point to a famous legal battle – in Sir Neil’s case McCormick v Lord Advocate (regarding the designation of Queen Elizabeth in Scotland) – bearing the family name. Sir Neil started his academic career as a lecturer in jurisprudence at St Andrews University from 1965-67. He then moved to Balliol College, Oxford, as a fellow and tutor in jurisprudence from 1968-72. Thereafter, he held the Regius chair of public law and the law of nature and nations at Edinburgh University, appointed at the unusually young age of 31. His major contribution to academic thought was in the field of the philosophy and theory of law. Greatly influenced by the writings of the late Professor H L A Hart of Oxford University, about whom he published a critical biography in 1981 (a second edition was published last year), Sir Neil could be described an “ethical positivist”. For him it was an ethical presupposition that law be treated to a large extent as detached from morality.
This approach bore fruit in a collection of essays published in 1982 entitled Legal Right and Social Democracy, and his interest in law as an institution of human society in such internationally recognised works as The Institutional Theory of Law (1986) and the more recent Institutions of Law: An Essay in Legal Theory (2007). Other important works included Questioning Sovereignty: Law, State and Nation in the European Commonwealth (1999) and Rhetoric and the Rule of Law (2005). He was a compelling lecturer and brilliant tutor, and political involvement overlapped naturally with Sir Neil’s academic career. He joined the SNP (which his father had left in 1942) in 1967, eventually became one of its vice-presidents and unsuccessfully contested seats in Edinburgh and Argyll (where his brother Iain had been MP from 1974-79) from 1979-97. He finally won an election in 1999, having been ranked second on the SNP’s list for the European parliamentary elections.Sir Neil’s belief in Scottish independence was pragmatic rather than romantic. He refused to see it “as an end in itself”, as he explained in a collection of essays he edited in 1970 – The Scottish Debate – but saw rather a “utilitarian nationalism” which proposed independence as “the best means to the well-being of Scottish people”. Keenly interested in constitutions, whether Scottish, British or European, Sir Neil argued strongly that Scotland would automatically remain a member of the European Union if it became independent, while defending the concept of Scotland becoming a “partner region” of the EU, something he was honest enough to admit fell short of his party’s preferred aim of “independence in Europe”. A member of the Convention on the Future of Europe from 2002-03, which drafted the EU’s proposed Constitutional Treaty, Sir Neil published Who’s Afraid of a European Constitution? in 2005.
Three times voted Scottish Euro MP of the Year at the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards, Sir Neil retired as an MEP in 2004 to complete his Leverhulme Research professorship at Edinburgh. In 1999 he was appointed Queen’s counsel honoris causa, while his knighthood in 2001 for services to scholarship in law furrowed some Nationalist brows. The then SNP leader, John Swinney, defended it as “a recognition of Neil MacCormick’s tremendous academic achievements”.In 2004 Sir Neil received the Royal Society of Edinburgh’s Royal Gold Medal for Outstanding Achievement, and in 2008 retired from the Regius chair at Edinburgh after 36 years as a professor. Accorded the honour of a series of lectures in his name, as well as an honorary degree, he found retirement provided more time for hill-walking, bagpiping and sailing. In May 2007 Sir Neil was appointed a special adviser on Europe to Alex Salmond’s minority Scottish Government, the election of which gave him much satisfaction. One of his last tasks was to pen a short introduction for a new edition of his father’s book, The Flag in the Wind, although he was too ill to attend its launch at Bute House. He also took much pleasure from a special screening of the film Stone of Destiny, featuring his father, at his home last year. His final book, Practical Reason in Law and Morality, was published just before Christmas. Like his father, Sir Neil was a man of rare courage in illness and pain. He died from stomach cancer and is survived by three daughters from his first marriage to Caroline Barr, his second wife, Flora, and three step-children.
(copyright The Scotsman)
Veteran Scottish broadcaster who presented Newsnight
MacCormick’s father was a Glasgow teacher who died when Donald was six. This resulted in him being extremely close to the family of his lawyer uncle, John, a partner in the firm of MacCormick and Neil. Coincidentally, this partnership, in name at least, would be revived in later years by Donald as Newsnight presenter and Ron Neil, whose father had been the other lawyer in the firm, as his editor in the early 1980s.
Aside from his legal work, “King John” MacCormick, Donald’s uncle, was a Liberal and devolutionist who was also arguably the father of popular Scottish Nationalism through the Scottish Covenant, a petition for devolved home rule which gained widespread support in the early 1950s. Donald was therefore steeped in Scottish politics from an early age.
Educated at King’s Park secondary school in Glasgow, he then became part of a famous generation of gifted and political Glasgow University students, which included John Smith, Donald Dewar, Derry Irvine and Menzies Campbell. MacCormick was chairman of the Labour Club. However, while he retained a lifelong fascination with politics, his interests were diverse and he never sought a political career. Having edited the university’s literary magazine, he taught English at the High School of Glasgow for five years, but broadcasting was his natural calling. He started by presenting a books programme for STV and then, in 1967, moved to Grampian in Aberdeen as a news reporter.
His next step was to join BBC Scotland in Glasgow as a current affairs presenter. The early 1970s was something of a golden age for BBC Scotland, which made serious programmes on which MacCormick worked alongside Magnus Magnusson, the fine industrial journalist Hugh Cochrane and latterly Andrew Neil, who became a close friend. MacCormick’s role was not restricted to politics and he probably came to London’s attention by presenting programmes from the Edinburgh festival.
When Michael Bunce was in the process of reviving the Tonight programme in a late-night slot, he selected a Scotsman, an Irishman and an Englishwoman as his presenters: MacCormick, Denis Tuohy and Sue Lawley. Non-Oxbridge accents were not common in the mid-70s. However, even the most fastidious defender of received pronunciation could scarcely object to Donald’s gentle west of Scotland cadence. When Tonight evolved into Newsnight, MacCormick became one of the regular presenters, along with Peter Snow and John Tusa. He was liked and admired by all who worked with him.
His Newsnight role lasted throughout the Thatcher years, but by the end of it, MacCormick was ready for another challenge and welcomed an approach from LWT. One of his great supporters within the Corporation had been Robin Day, who saw an interviewer in the same mould as himself – non-confrontational but a skilful cross-examiner.
Donald was devoted to the cousins with whom he and his brother had grown up in Glasgow: Iain, who was first a Scottish Nationalist MP and then a founder member of the SDP, and Sir Neil MacCormick, the regius professor of law at Edinburgh University and former Nationalist MEP who died earlier this year; an event that affected Donald deeply.
Married first to Lis MacKinlay, a Glasgow University contemporary with whom he had three children, Donald married the BBC producer Liz Elton in 1978 and they had two children. They all survive him.
• Donald MacCormick, broadcaster, born 16 April 1939; died 12 July 2009
(copyright The Guardian)
Obituary: Iain Somerled MacDonald MacCormick,
Iain MacCormick: SNP politician who was committed to serving his Argyll constituents. Born: 28 September, 1939, in Glasgow. Died: 19 September, 2014, in Oban, aged 74 Although children of political families sometimes make surprising choices – for example the communist writer Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s daughter became a Tory councillor in Welwyn Garden City – there was never any doubt that Iain MacCormick, son of “King John” MacCormick, one of the founders of the SNP, would, like his brother Neil, who became an SNP MEP, do anything other than undertake a nationalist political journey. Indeed, the very last political act that Iain undertook was to walk, unaided, into the polling station in Oban last Thursday, carrying the oxygen cylinder he needed to keep breathing following his recent operation for lung cancer, and cast his Yes vote for independence. Scarcely more than 24 hours later he was dead, leaving Riona, his widow and third wife, his five children from his first marriage and a very wide circle of friends and admirers to deeply mourn his passing.
Iain Somerled MacDonald MacCormick was born in Glasgow on 28 September, 1939, just after the start of the Second World War. He was brought up in the city in a household which rejoiced in political debate. His father John had only two years earlier been the SNP candidate in a by-election in Hillhead but he subsequently left the SNP, believing that the party should adopt a more devolutionist stance. John MacCormick later stood as a Liberal candidate, believing that at that time the Liberals were the party most committed to home rule, and perhaps that was also in Iain’s mind when he became a founding member of the SDP in 1981; though he returned to the SNP in the first decade of the 21st century. Iain studied history and English at the University of Glasgow and became a teacher, eventually coming to work in Oban, within sight of the Island of Mull where the family had ancestral roots. He first contested Argyll for the SNP in 1970 but failed to unseat the Tory Michael Noble who had been secretary of state for Scotland. In February 1974 Iain stood once more and had an unexpected victory, the more so since Argyll had been represented by a Conservative for 50 years. Noble accepted a peerage in May 1974 and in October that year Iain increased his majority against a new Tory candidate.Argyll was and remains a huge constituency. At that time it also included Ardnamurchan so the problems of adequately serving so many small, remote communities, many of them on islands or at the end of poor roads, was even greater than it is now.Iain, however, was undaunted and travelled the length and breadth of “his” area, often at considerable inconvenience in order to ensure that every constituent got the chance to speak to and make use of their elected representative in order to alleviate their problems and improve their lives. I continue to meet people right across Argyll who remember things he had done for them when he was their MP and who speak of him with great fondness for he was a very human man, entertaining, sociable and always interesting and interested. Many of Iain’s former pupils also remember “Humph”, as he was known in Oban High School, with respect and have been contributing in recent days to some of the Oban Facebook pages to say so.
The five years during which Iain was in the House of Commons were hard ones. Winnie Ewing, another of those who served as an MP from 1974 to 1979, has described in her autobiography what the pressure was like and how their constant struggle to hold Labour to account and get devolution delivered told on all of them. At times they were treated abominably, for something akin to panic had swept through Labour and Tory ranks after the 1974 elections. The imposition of the 40 per cent rule by Labour in the 1979 referendum was the last straw and although the Tories promised “better devolution”, in reality their election ended the matter for a generation. Iain suffered like the rest and the experience of losing his seat compounded the problem. He was exhausted, suddenly without employment and unsure of his future prospects. Those are hard things to bear, especially together. That may have lead to the decision to accept an invitation to join another party but he did not pursue a political career and instead worked for BT in public affairs, spending much of his time in London. However, he remained a member of the Glasgow Art Club and when he returned to Glasgow to work in PR he served on its committee, eventually becoming lay Vice President. It was there that he re-met an old friend from Oban, Riona MacInnes, and they held their wedding reception in the club in September 2009, at which time he returned to Oban to live, having also spent some time in France during his second marriage. I shared a Yes platform in Oban with Iain at the end of April and I was impressed as ever with his clear thinking about what Scotland – and Argyll – needed. But most of all I was struck, as were all those present, with Iain’s absolute commitment to a better and fairer future for our country and its people. His courage on polling day confirmed his determination to see that achieved. Without doubt, his spirit, his memory and his cause will live on. Iain MacCormack’s funeral will take place at 10am on Thursday, 25 September at St Columba’s Cathedral in Oban.
(copyright The Scotsman)
Just came across a letter I wrote to my parents from Brooklyn, NY in October 1961. The bulk of the letter is given to details about the behaviour of the then two month old firstborn of Kristina and myself – Neil MacCormick.
But I also respond to the shocking news from my father about the death of his cousin, John M. MacCormick.
I then ask my father what John’s son, Neil, …”is doing for a living now that he has his degree. Going into law as his father did?”
As one somewhat superficial but telling measure, Google lists 28 pages of entries under the name, Neil MacCormick, with only two or three entries given to others of that name!
Neil did not just go “into law” – he rewrote much of its underpinnings.
[While awaiting material for the WILLIAM line, I came across a remarkable essay on the accomplishments of Iain MacCormick, the Australian-born son of DUGALD. Apologies for my mishandling of the essay settings – corrections to follow]
This piece is taken from the web site, BRITISH TELEVISION DRAMA http://www.britishtelevisiondrama.org.uk/
Note the COMMENT by Iain’s daughter, Fionna Cardale, at the end of the essay,
OLIVER WAKE (copyright)
This piece was substantially revised and updated in 2013.
When people talk about the pioneers of television writing in Britain, they invariably mention those who made their reputations in the 1960s, such as Dennis Potter and John Hopkins. However, in the 1950s, Iain MacCormick was recognised as the first writer to make a name specifically from original television writing in Britain. This essay is an attempt to explain who he was, why his work was notable and why he is now so little-known.
MacCormick was born in Australia 1918 to Scottish émigré parents. He considered himself a Scot also and held a British passport. MacCormick was studying medicine when the Second World War began and he volunteered for service with the Australian army, rising to the rank of Captain. He fought in North Africa, Crete and Greece, where, in 1941, he was captured when Allied forces withdrew. He spent the next four years as a prisoner of war, during which time he took to writing, between escape attempts, and completed a number of plays. Upon his release in 1945 he was sent to Britain en route to Australia for official demobilisation, but he didn’t complete this journey, choosing to settle in London.
Two of MacCormick’s plays from his POW years, Stairway to the Stars and Call Back the Night, were produced in London simultaneously in 1945. Having also used his time in captivity to study for a qualification in advertising, MacCormick became an account director at an advertising agency, although he gave this up in 1951 to concentrate on his writing. His 1949 stage play The Beautiful World was a tragedy set in post-war Berlin based on a true story. It concerned the political and personal conflicts which arise when the daughter of a Communist takes a Social Democrat as her boyfriend. This form of ideological melodrama, informed by the turbulent politics of the mid-twentieth century, is characteristic of much of MacCormick’s television work.1
MacCormick made a big impact in television drama in 1954 when he wrote The Promised Years for the BBC. This wasn’t a single play but an ambitious ‘cycle’ of four plays. As MacCormick explained in the Radio Times: “A ‘series’ of plays is merely a group of dramatic episodes, not necessarily related. On the other hand, a ‘cycle’ is a group of related plays and, as the word implies, the final play should return to the scene and characters of the first.”2
The cycle opens with The Liberators, set in Italy in 1945.3 The British officer Major Kent must order the destruction of the town of Canavento to impede the German retreat and the drama is built around his dilemma as to whether he can afford to allow the evacuation of civilians first. Two of The Liberators’ characters are carried through to the next play, The Good Partners, which was set around the Berlin airlift of 1948 and the plight of a fugitive eastern European scientist.4
Another pair of The Liberators’ characters appeared in the third play in the cycle, The Small Victory.5 Another three years has passed and the setting is the Korean war. The story is set around a Catholic mission overtaken by the Chinese and tyrannised by the sadistic Captain Feng, who attempts to force false confessions by torture. The quartet concluded with Return to the River, in which Kent revisits the rebuilt Canavento in the present of 1954 and finds that these promised years of peace are anything but; the sides have changed but the violence continues.6
The Liberators was called “outstanding television drama” by The Stage newspaper.7 Writing in The Observer, Ken Tynan reported that The Good Partners was a “triumph” and praised the “masterly incisiveness” of MacCormick’s writing.8 Critics were less impressed by Return to the River than by its precursors, with The Manchester Guardian finding it a “sad anticlimax.”9 Even so, The Promised Years had been a great success and MacCormick won the Guild of TV Producers and Directors’ television script award for the cycle.10 Another prize followed at the Daily Mail National Radio and Television awards a few months later.11 The script of The Small Victory was later published in an anthology of television plays and it, along with The Liberators, was produced again by the BBC in 1960, independent of the whole cycle, indicating that they worked as stand-alone plays in their own right.12
In late 1954 MacCormick was contracted to Ealing Film Studios as a writer for a period of six months, which was extended to seven before his services were dispensed with.13 The only film he is known to have worked on is The Feminine Touch, a drama about nurses’ lives based on the novel ‘A Lamp is Heavy’ by Sheila MacKay Russell, which was released in 1956.
Always open to new opportunities, MacCormick was one of the first to write original drama for the new ITV network when it arrived in late 1955. His play The Rescue was seen in October that year and in 1956 he provided the short play Any One Day for the network.14 The same year his drama The Mother, about a Polish refugee family trying to reach Canada and the sacrifice the mother must make to enable the others to leave, was seen on ITV’s premier drama anthology Armchair Theatre (1956-74).15 It was later reported that The Mother was to be filmed to mark International Refugee Year (1960), though it’s unclear if this project reached fruition.16
Recognising a business opportunity in the threat ITV posed to the BBC, MacCormick formed International Playwrights Group Ltd. He proposed to the BBC that he and a group of other writers represented by this company could be contracted by the Corporation to provide a large number of short dramas per year, with their guarantee that they would not work for ITV. The BBC declined the proposal.17 It seems MacCormick was involved in other aspects of television dramatists’ contracts around this time, with the BBC’s script unit head Donald Wilson writing in 1960 that MacCormick was “determined that the author should not be at a disadvantage in television, either financially or artistically. He was early in the ring fighting for both causes with vigour and obstinacy.”18
MacCormick continued writing plays for the BBC throughout the 1950s. The Safe Haven (1955) was a melodrama about the daughter of a wealthy Scottish industrialist, her Canadian husband and wastrel father.19 In The Weeping Madonna (1956), two roguish Italians plot to create a fake “weeping” Madonna statue to boost tourism to their small town and make their fortunes, only for the statue to start weeping for real.20
Act of Violence (1956) was set in an unnamed central European state where a legendary revolutionary reappears to seize power.21 Although his coup is unexpectedly bloodless, violence follows in the aftermath. MacCormick called it “a frank and unashamed melodrama of the modern manner”, a description which fits much of his work.22 Another project planned for the same year concerned a Nazi resurgence, but it doesn’t appear to have been produced.23
Violence was again on the horizon in One Morning Near Troodos (1956), which took place in contemporary Cyprus. When occupying British troops hunt a local resistance leader an unscrupulous journalist plots to misdirect them for the sake of his story, ultimately leading them in to a rebel ambush.24 The Daily Express found it “gripping”, with a “neat twist” at the end, and noted its topicality.25 Less topical but also about resistance to an occupier was Marjolaine (1957), named after the Brittany village in which it was set in 1943.26 The villagers face the dilemma of whether to hide or hand over to the Germans a wounded British airman shot down nearby.
The Quiet Ones (1957) was a more contemporary piece about Communist infiltration and political agitation at the level of the factory floor.27 Ironically, the play’s broadcast was postponed as a result of what The Stage called “industrial strife”.28 Its lead character was a devout Catholic seen to be seduced into Communism by trade unionists, only to be disillusioned by the revelation that his brother was one of the eponymous “quiet ones” who control the agitation from behind the scenes. The Daily Express found it a “first-rate play” for its exposure of Communism in industry but were less keen on the domestic element.29
Later in 1957 came MacCormick’s next big project, The English Family Robinson. It was another cycle of four plays, this time on the theme of “a century of British rule in India”.30 The cycle told the story of four generations of the Robinson family, each representing a different facet of the British experience in India. The first play, Night of the Tigers, was set around the outbreak of the Indian mutiny of 1857 while the second, The Little World, concerned a potential famine following a crop change.31 The cycle continued in 1904 for The Third Miracle, about a threatened typhoid epidemic, and concluded with Free Passage Home, which concerned the spectre of seemingly inevitable violence between Muslims and Hindus on the eve of the partitioning of India in 1947.32
The Times praised the “satisfyingly compact drama” of Night of the Tigers, though The Manchester Guardian was less keen, finding it “a dull, if worthy, play.”33 The BBC’s audience sample found it “an exciting play with plenty of substance and atmosphere”.34 The Stage hoped for more plays of the quality of Free Passage Home, noting that MacCormick had “shown his near-mastery of the TV medium.”35 “A sound essay in writing for television” was The Manchester Guardian’s final summary of the whole quartet.36 The English Family Robinson doesn’t seem entirely deserving of the “cycle” description, according to MacCormick’s own earlier definition, because the passage of time prevents any of the characters of the first play returning for the fourth. Nevertheless it was another notable achievement in terms of original drama conceived and commissioned specifically for television.
Upon completion of The English Family Robinson, MacCormick was asked to turn his hand to serial writing. It proved to be harder than he’d anticipated and he reported to the Radio Times that he’d had to learn a completely new writing technique as well as jettisoning his original story idea as it would not fit into the serial format.37 The result was The Money Man (1958), a six-part “whodunit” which the author described as “the first exposé of the way in which the European currency racket sets about its business”.38 Although he would later script standalone episodes for popular series, MacCormick didn’t attempt his own serial again.
Back in the realm of plays, The Uninvited (1958) was about a Russian woman who turns up in a London newspaper office looking for her American serviceman husband, having recently been released from one of Stalin’s labour camps.39 Her plight is taken up by the newspaper but the husband, once located, refuses to be reunited with his war bride, having remarried in the intervening years. The Observer‘s Maurice Richardson found it “intelligent and viewable” while the Daily Mirror thought it “an entertaining short story”.40 In 1959 MacCormick moved into series television, writing six episodes for The Third Man (1959-65), a BBC/MGM co-production spin-off from the film of the same name.
MacCormick’s next television play was Nightfall at Kriekville (1961), in which a prejudiced mayor of a small South African town uses a minor prank (perpetrated, it transpires, by his own son) as a convenient pretext to demolish the homes of the native Bantus people in an attempt to drive them away.41 The Guardian wrote that it was “a credible and exciting play of the clash between black and white, without moralising or propaganda either way.”42 The Times went further, finding it “a vigorous, harsh and exciting piece of work” and pondering whether
it is the immediacy of its theme that gives it its unusual strength or whether Mr. MacCormick has this time cut deeper than in the past… If the play actually does go deeper than its predecessors it is because the author finds something in the perverted fanaticism of the mayor independent of the situation … It seems as if Mr. MacCormick has gone beyond his temporary pretext for his play to a permanent sore on human character.43
Less than a month later, The Hunted (1961) was broadcast.44 Concerning a half-French, half-Algerian girl on the run and the American novelists she meets late at night, it was a “tough, efficient thriller,” according to the Radio Times, set in “the underworld of modern Paris, where political differences are settled at pistol-point.”45 The Times was impressed, noting that “during the play’s tightly packed 50 minutes we were never left in any doubt … that we were in the presence of rounded, believable human beings, however extraordinary the situation in which they found themselves.”46
In 1959, when he was living on Jersey, MacCormick had been part of a group who founded the company Channel Communications (Television) Ltd, to compete for the ITV licence for the Channel Islands. The bid proved successful and in 1962, as Channel Television, the company went on-air, where it has remained ever since. However, his level of hands-on participation in the running of the station is unknown, though his family report his involvement was financially disastrous for him. He later lived for a period in Spain before returning to England.
Around this time MacCormick found that the market for television plays had become much more competitive than when he had first made his name, with the effect of driving down the fees he could command for plays. Despite plays being his dramatic lifeblood he concentrated instead, solely for financial reasons, on more lucrative work writing for popular series. He scripted four episodes of ITV’s filmed crime and espionage series The Saint (1962-69), for broadcast in 1964, under the pseudonym John Graeme, which he had used once before on his final episode of The Third Man.47 John was the English equivalent of the Gaelic Iain and Graeme was his middle name. He used the pseudonym to make a distinction between the writing assignments he took simply for the money and the plays about which he most cared. It was also reported that he’d been able to sell some of his plays to German television.48
MacCormick’s last known television credits were an episode of the co-produced UK/US series Court Martial (1965) and several instalments of Gideon’s Way (1964-66), a police series based on the characters and themes of John Creasey’s Gideon novels, in 1964, ’65 and ’66, for which he reverted to being credited under his own name. Several of these episodes were broadcast posthumously as Iain MacCormick died following a two-year battle with cancer in October 1965, aged 47. His headstone read: ‘The Promised Years’.
As early as the mid-1950s, within a year of his big splash with The Promised Years, MacCormick’s unique position in television was being recognised. The Times noted in 1955 that he was “a writer who has made television his speciality.”49 The following year the Radio Times wrote that “MacCormick is a rare creature – a serious playwright whose name has been made by television and who is writing on commission especially for the medium.”50 In 1959 he was noted in an Armchair Theatre book to be “the first major playwright to make his reputation from British television”.51
MacCormick was already celebrity enough to appear on the BBC storytelling panel game Once Upon a Time between the third and fourth of The Promised Years plays.52 The BBC commission for The English Family Robinson reportedly came with a fee “greater than any yet paid by the Corporation”.53 These comments indicate not only MacCormick’s level of recognition for his original television work but the rarity of dramatists at the time choosing television as their primary outlet, which makes him all the more remarkable.
It’s also interesting to note the style of MacCormick’s work. The Stage reported that The Liberators seemed to “belong” to television, which sets it apart from the more theatrical presentation of drama which dominated television then.54 However, other sources suggest this may have not been typical for MacCormick. For The English Family Robinson, he restricted himself to only one set each for three of the plays, with one being allowed a second. He decreed that there would be no film inserts used, with the whole drama occurring live in the studio, without a glimpse of Indian exteriors.55 Presumably, therefore, these plays were aesthetically more conventional and theatre-like. In the absence of recordings it is impossible to know for sure, but at least one viewer complained that the background of the first of The English Family Robinson plays was “rather restricted in scope”.56 Tellingly, the Daily Mirror noted that The Uninvited “could have been broadcast on sound to advantage”, suggesting a lack of visual interest.57 These comments indicate that while a talented writer of drama, MacCormick wasn’t interested in innovating a particularly ‘televisual’ style or pushing the technical limitations of the medium, as some of his successors were.
However, interestingly, Donald Wilson reported in 1960 that “MacCormick set his heart against the subordination of the writer to a junior rank among the production group, and trained as a television producer in order to equip himself to talk on equal terms with the producers and designers of his plays.”58 His only producer’s credit was for 1956’s Act of Violence and, given he was never to our knowledge on the BBC’s staff, one assumes MacCormick’s training was informal, via his presence at production meetings and performances. Even so, it does seem unusual that he kept his plays so stylistically simple when he must have known how much more was possible.
Perhaps the most notable characteristic of MacCormick’s work was its topicality, with many of his plays being based around contemporary events or political movements. Noting its topicality, the Daily Express found One Morning Near Troodos “as fresh as this morning’s Page One headlines”.59 In their review of The Hunted, The Times reported that MacCormick was “almost alone among our television dramatists in finding his inspiration consistently in the political and social problems of the day… it is his particular talent to demonstrate abstract issues in properly human terms”.60 However, this was not always to his work’s advantage, with The Times later writing in relation to Nightfall at Kriekville that MacCormick “creates his plays neatly and with admirable precision from an impassioned involvement in the world’s troubles, which change rapidly enough to rob the plays they inspire of a certain immediacy.”61
Prior to his death, MacCormick had written another play cycle, called The Last Adventure. It was in a similar vein to The English Family Robinson, but dealing with English settlers in Kenya, from the earliest days of the Mau Mau uprising to a prophecy of a fascistic all-African nation emerging. Television producer Irene Shubik later recalled that it was never made “because of its very specific political allusions”.62 She suggested that in some respects the political topicality of MacCormick’s work acted against it, quickly making it dated. She recalls that when his widow suggested in both 1966 and ‘69 that the BBC produce The Last Adventure and repeat some of his earlier plays, “all were found to have values and attitudes belonging to another era.”63
Although his choice of contemporary subjects was a new approach for television drama, MacCormick’s “values and attitudes” were conventional and conservative. For example, he depicts the political left-wing as shady and sinister. Unsurprisingly, given the Cold War period in which he was writing, Communism is shown as a malign presence or influence, but even British trades unionism is tarred with the same brush in The Quiet Ones. Conversely, British imperialism is celebrated as a paternalistic force throughout The English Family Robinson cycle.
Faith is a subject drawn upon in a number of MacCormick’s plays, perhaps unusually as he did not practise any religion himself. In his writing MacCormick seems to have a particular fascination for Roman Catholic characters and themes, from the erring but devout protagonist of The Quiet Ones to the miraculous events of The Weeping Madonna. The Small Victory gives us perhaps the most extreme example. A small group of prisoners of the Chinese in Korea undergo torture and eventually execution, largely willingly, instead of allowing the Catholic priest amongst them to sign a false confession. This is presented as a moral victory, as the title makes clear, despite the great and unnecessary human tragedy it entails for no tangible benefit.
Tradition, faith, British resolve and imperial beneficence are undoubtedly the values of MacCormick’s drama which Shubik noted to be outdated by the mid/late-1960s. Indeed, it’s almost a surprise to learn that The Small Victory had a second production as late as 1960 and it’s hard to imagine many of his earlier dramas being made again beyond that point. In light of this, it is more understandable that around the beginning of the 1960s, as politically progressive writers like David Mercer and Alun Owen were becoming prominent in the medium, MacCormick found himself no longer able to compete effectively in the sphere of television plays.64
Despite his deservedness for recognition as one of the earliest writers of serious original television drama, it’s easy to understand MacCormick’s present obscurity. He chose to work in television when it was considered to be an entirely ephemeral medium and, because of such attitudes, very little of his work was preserved for posterity.65 In addition, the topicality and ideologically conservative standpoint of much of his work limited its longevity in a period defined by rapid social progress. Finally, his premature death in 1965, just as what is now perceived by many as a ‘golden age’ for television was getting under way, meant that his contribution to television pre-dated the period which attracts most retrospective interest.
(C) Oliver Wake
The author wishes to acknowledge a debt of gratitude to the family of Iain MacCormick who took time and effort to provide significant new biographical information for this revised essay. Thanks also to the BBC’s Written Archives Centre for assistance with research.
Iain MacCormick credits
Television writing credits:
All productions BBC except where noted as ITV. Some of the ITV programmes were seen on different dates in different ITV regions. The earliest transmission date we’re aware for each is used here.
23/05/54 The Promised Years: The Liberators
27/05/54 The Promised Years: The Liberators
13/06/54 The Promised Years: The Good Partners
17/06/54 The Promised Years: The Good Partners
11/07/54 The Promised Years: The Small Victory
15/07/54 The Promised Years: The Small Victory
15/08/54 The Promised Years: Return To The River
19/08/54 The Promised Years: Return To The River
24/04/55 The Safe Haven
15/10/55 Playhouse: The Rescue [ITV]
08/01/56 The Weeping Madonna
09/02/56 Act of Violence
08/04/56 Theatre Royal: On Any One Day [ITV]
30/09/56 Sunday-Night Theatre: One Morning Near Troodos
28/10/56 Armchair Theatre: The Mother [ITV]
16/06/57 Sunday-Night Theatre: The Quiet Ones
27/10/57 Sunday-Night Theatre: English Family Robinson: Night of the Tigers
03/11/57 Sunday-Night Theatre: English Family Robinson: The Little World
10/10/57 Sunday-Night Theatre: English Family Robinson: The Third Miracle
17/11/57 Sunday-Night Theatre: English Family Robinson: Free Passage Home
05/04-10/05/58 The Money Man
23/11/58 Television Playwright: The Uninvited
02/10/59 The Third Man: One Kind Word
04/12/59 The Third Man: The Importance of Being Harry Lime
22/01/60 The Third Man: Dinner in Paris
04/03/60 The Third Man: The Girl Who Didn’t Know
22/04/60 The Third Man: The Tenth Symphony
29/07/60 The Third Man: Harry Lime and the King (as John Graeme)
21/08/60 Summer Theatre: The Liberators
28/08/60 Summer Theatre: The Small Victory
25/09/61 Nightfall at Kriekville
16/10/61 The Hunted
02/01/64 The Saint: The Wonderful War [ITV] (as John Graeme)
09/01/64 The Saint: Noble Sportsman [ITV] (as John Graeme)
05/03/64 The Saint: The Gentle Ladies [ITV] (as John Graeme)
31/10/64 Gideon’s Way: To Catch a Tiger [ITV]
19/11/64 The Saint: The Loving Brothers [ITV] (as John Graeme)
09/01/65 Gideon’s Way: The Nightlifers [ITV]
24/04/65 Gideon’s Way: The Alibi Man [ITV]
11/11/65 Court Martial: Flight of a Tiger [ITV]
03/02/66 Gideon’s Way: The Thin Red Line [ITV]
27/02/66 Gideon’s Way: Boy with Gun [ITV]
28/07/54 Once Upon a Time [appearance on BBC panel game]
09/02/56 Act of Violence [produced play for BBC]
1956 (release) Ealing Film: The Feminine Touch [script work, extent unknown]
Originally posted: 13 March 2010.
22 April 2012: revised and updated.
2 October 2013: substantial rewrite with new material; addition of credits
3 October 2013: minor corrections to editor’s mistakes and omissions
21 January 2014: added material from BBC Written Archives
1.Biographical details in this and preceding paragraph are drawn from Anonymous, The Armchair Theatre: How to Write, Design, Direct, Act and Enjoy Television Plays (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1959), p.65 and Anonymous, ‘Chit Chat’, The Stage, 19 July 1945, p. 4. In addition, these and later paragraphs are informed by biographical information kindly provided by MacCormick’s family in email correspondence with the author in November/December 2012 and September 2013. [↩]
2.Iain MacCormick, ‘An Experiment in Television Drama’, Radio Times, 21 May 1954, p. 14. [↩]
3.The Promised Years: ‘The Liberators’, tx. 23 May 1954. Each of the four The Promised Years plays had a second live performance four days after its first, as was the custom at the time. All transmissions detailed in these notes were on the original sole BBC television channel unless stated otherwise. [↩]
4.The Promised Years: ‘The Good Partners’, tx. 13 June 1954. [↩]
5.The Promised Years: ‘The Small Victory’, tx. 11 July 1954. [↩]
6.The Promised Years: ‘Return to the River’, tx. 15 August 1954. [↩]
7.Anonymous, ‘TV Becomes Intelligent’, The Stage, 27 May 1954, p. 9. [↩]
8.Kenneth Tynan, ‘Comics and Others’, The Observer, 20 June 1954, p. 10. [↩]
9.Anonymous, ‘Play Cycle Ends in Anticlimax’, The Manchester Guardian, 17 August 1954, p. 4. [↩]
10.Anonymous, ‘Television Awards’, The Times, 26 October 1954, p. 5. [↩]
11.Anonymous, ‘Gala Night for Televiewers’, Daily Mail, 7 February 1955, p. 3. [↩]
12.Michael Barry (editor), The Television Playwright (London: Michael Joseph Ltd, 1960). Summer Theatre: ‘The Liberators’, tx. 21 August 1960. Summer Theatre: ‘The Small Victory’, tx. 28 August 1960. [↩]
13.These details are drawn from MacCormick’s literary contract file held by the British Film Institute as part of its Sir Michael Balcon Special Collection. Thanks to the BFI Special Collections team for making these papers available for research. [↩]
14.Playhouse: ‘The Rescue’, ITV, tx. 15 October 1955. Theatre Royal: ‘On Any One Day’, ITV, tx. 8 April 1956. Both of these productions were seen on different dates in different ITV regions. The earliest transmission date that we’re aware of for each are used here. The use of the Playhouse banner for ‘The Rescue’ was also subject to regional variation. [↩]
15.Armchair Theatre: ‘The Mother’, tx. 28 October 1956. [↩]
16.Anonymous, The Armchair Theatre, p. 65. [↩]
17.Irene Shubik, Play for Today: The Evolution of Television Drama Second Edition (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000), pp. 19-20. [↩]
18.Donald Wilson in Barry, The Television Playwright, p.45. [↩]
19.The Safe Haven, tx. 24 April 1955. [↩]
20.The Weeping Madonna, tx. 8 January 1956. [↩]
21.Act of Violence, tx. 9 February 1956. [↩]
22.Iain MacCormick, ‘Act of Violence’, Radio Times, 3 February 1956, p. 5. [↩]
23.Hugh Jones, ‘The Weeping Madonna’. [↩]
24.One Morning Near Troodos, tx. 30 September 1956. [↩]
25.Robert Cannell, ‘It’s Melly for Kelly[:] Look out, Gilbert’, Daily Express, 1 October 1956, p. 9. [↩]
26.Marjolaine, tx. 7 Feb 1957. [↩]
27.Sunday-Night Theatre: ‘The Quiet Ones’, tx. 16 June 1957. [↩]
28.Anonymous, ‘Iain MacCormick’s Postponed Play’, The Stage, 6 June 1957, p. 6. [↩]
29.Felix Battle, ‘The Quiet Ones – or how the Party termites nibble at society’, Daily Express, 17 June 1957, p. 4. It should be noted that this appears to be a highly partisan review, assessing the play on a political basis as much as a dramatic one. [↩]
30.Anthony Gray, ‘Telebriefs…’, The Stage, 21 February 1957, p. 12. [↩]
31.English Family Robinson: ‘Night of the Tigers’, tx. 27 October 1957. English Family Robinson: ‘The Little World’, tx. 3 November 1957. Both transmitted under the Sunday-Night Theatre banner. [↩]
32.English Family Robinson: ‘The Third Miracle’, tx. 10 October 1957. English Family Robinson: ‘Free Passage Home’, tx. 17 November 1957. Both transmitted under the Sunday-Night Theatre banner. [↩]
33.Anonymous, ‘The English Family Robinson’, The Times, 28 October 1957, p. 5 and Anonymous, ‘21 Years of BBC Television’, The Manchester Guardian, 28 October 1957, p. 5. [↩]
34.This comment is from the highly positive BBC Audience Research Report: ‘The English family Robinson’, 1 – ‘Night of the Tigers’, from BBC Written Archives Centre, file R9/7/30. [↩]
35.Vera Dixon in ‘Left in Space’, The Stage, 21 November 1957, p. 19. [↩]
36.Anonymous, ‘A Year of Landmarks and Technical Progress’, The Manchester Guardian, 31 December 1957, p. 3. [↩]
37.Iain MacCormick, ‘The Money Man’, Radio Times, 28 March 1958, p. 7. [↩]
38.Ibid. The Money Man, six episodes, 5 April to 10 May 1958. [↩]
39.Television Playwright: ‘The Uninvited’, tx. 23 November 1958. [↩]
40.Maurice Richardson, ‘Inaudible Irish Oedipus’, The Observer, 30 November 1958, p. 16 and Richard Sear, ‘It was OK for sound’, Daily Mirror, 24 November 1958, p. 16. [↩]
41.Nightfall at Kriekville, tx. 25 September 1961. [↩]
42.Mary Crozier, ‘Television’, The Guardian, 26 September 1961, p. 7. [↩]
43.Anonymous, ‘Study in Perverted Fanaticism’, The Times, 26 September 1961, p. 14. [↩]
44.The Hunted, tx. 16 October 1961. [↩]
45.Anonymous, ‘The Hunted’, Radio Times, 12 October 1961, p. 23. [↩]
46.Anonymous, ‘A Not So Simple Mystery Story’, The Times, 17 October 1961, p. 16. [↩]
47.The Third Man: ‘Harry Lime the King’, tx. 29 July 1960. [↩]
48.The 1960 report refers to his work being introduced to Germany ‘a few years ago’. Margaret Cowan, ‘A-R Prepare the Debut of Studio 5’, The Stage and Television Today, 7 April 1960, p. 13. [↩]
49.Anonymous, ‘Creative Material for Television’, The Times, 26 April 1955, p. 16. [↩]
50.Siriol Hugh Jones, ‘The Weeping Madonna’, Radio Times, 6 January 1956, p. 15. [↩]
51.Anonymous, The Armchair Theatre, p.65. [↩]
52.Tx. 28 July 1954. [↩]
53.Gray, ‘Telebriefs…’. [↩]
54.Anonymous, ‘TV Becomes Intelligent’. [↩]
55.Iain MacCormick, ‘The English Family Robinson’, Radio Times, 25 October 1957, p. 11. [↩]
56.Audience Research Report: ‘The English family Robinson’, 1 – ‘Night of the Tigers’, BBC WAC R9/7/30. [↩]
57.Sear, ‘It was OK for sound’. [↩]
58.Donald Wilson in Barry, The Television Playwright, p. 45. [↩]
59.Cannell, ‘It’s Melly for Kelly…’. [↩]
60.Anonymous, ‘A Not So Simple Mystery Story’. [↩]
61.Anonymous, ‘Study in Perverted Fanaticism’. [↩]
62.Shubik, Play for Today, p. 19. [↩]
63.Ibid, p. 20. [↩]
64.The reader should however note that these observations are based on the minimal evidence available about MacCormick’s work (mainly television listings and reviews) and cannot be considered in any way a definitive statement on the character of MacCormick or his drama. [↩]
65.To expand on an earlier comment regarding a dearth of archive, recordings for only four of MacCormick’s single plays (The Rescue, On Any One Day, The Weeping Madonna and Nightfall at Kriekville) are believed to exist. The Money Man also does not exist. However, as episodes in filmed series, MacCormick’s instalments of The Third Man, Gideon’s Way, Court Martial and The Saint do survive. [↩]
Posted on 13 March, 2010 by admin
Posted in Biographies, Oliver Wake
One thought on “Iain MacCormick”
13 November, 2012 at 11:06 pm
Iain MacCormick was my father. The reason he gave up writing plays was that he fell ill with cancer which he battled with for two years before succumbing in October 1965. His complete scripts were kept in tact by his second wife (Jill) , my mother, who died in May 2011. Both Iain and Jill are buried on Iona in the MacCormick family plot. Iain’s grave is marked with a tombstone headed ‘The Promised Years’. The Channel Islands venture was financially disastrous for Iain and he was declared bankrupt at the time of his illness. This was a very serious and socially shameful position to be in at that time, (which would account for the lack of information about Iain at that time) and sadly when he died in 1965 still an undischarged bankrupt, he left a young wife (35 years old) with two young children aged 7 and 5 and no means of support or income. His wife, Jill qualified as a teacher to support the family and enroled in the first year of The Open University to gain a degree. Remarkably, Jill managed on a teachers salary to repay each of the debtors in her husband’s bankruptcy although there was no requirement for her to do so. The MacCormick archive of original scripts is now looking for a permanent home.
Eat your hearts out, world.
Here in Gourock, Morag and Neil have been partying like mad.
Neil opened one of his Christmas presents, a Deluxe Set of 200 Games. all non-electronic.
We have already played Snakes and Ladders, Dominoes and Tiddleywinks. Taking a break now, pretty exhausted I tell you.
HAPPY NEW YEAR WHEREVER YOU ARE!