The Margaret Thomson Davis Collection

A small collection of material related to the Glasgow novelist, Margaret Thomson Davis.

About Margaret Thomson Davis

Margaret Thomson Davis was born in Bathgate in 1926, but her railwayman father moved the family to Glasgow when she was a toddler. Like many Scottish working-class children, she grew up in home filled with books and music; she remembers her mother as a fine musician, “who could tell a story in a song”.

While working at a range of short-term jobs, in factories and nurseries, she sent her stories and sketches to several magazines, gradually learning how to judge the market, and published her first novel, The Breadmakers in 1972. Likened by some to a Scottish version of Coronation Street, she disliked the comparison, arguing that the television portrayal was far less realistic.

The Breadmakers was followed by two further novels: A Baby Might Be Crying and A Sort of Peace that took the McNair’s Bakery saga through the Depression and the Second World War. Her ability to tell the stories of struggling families came from the fact that these stories reflected her own life; she had a habit of noting down everything she saw and heard, storing it away to be used later.

Throughout her life she was a member of the Society of Friends being greatly influenced by its principles of pacifism and mutual help. War represents a major rupture in society, most notably in The Clydesiders trilogy that appeared between 1999 and 2006. Margaret Thomson Davis wrote over 40 novels and more than 200 short stories and although best known for The Breadmakers and The Clydesiders, has also written contemporary crime thrillers such as A Deadly Deception and historical fiction.

She credits the city of Glasgow as the biggest source of inspiration for her work and in 2002 she was the recipient of the Lord Provost's Award for ‘bringing Glasgow’s history to vibrant life'. In 2006 she published an autobiography, Write from the Heart. She died at the age of 90 on 14 June 2006.

About the collection

The collection consists of four boxes of material relating to the Glasgow novelist, Margaret Thomson Davis (1926-2016), including 3 letters, manuscript copy of The Goodmans of Glassford Street and typescript copies of Write From the Heart, A Deadly Deception, The Goodmans of Glassford Street and Red Alert.

Finding aid

Margaret Thomson Davis Collection listing (PDF, 105KB)

Further reading

Obituary, Glasgow Herald

Obituary, Kirkintilloch Herald

Books by Margaret Thomson Davis in Glasgow Libraries

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