Osborne Henry Mavor

Biography of Osborne Henry Mavor

OH Mavor
OH Mavor

Osborne Henry Mavor (1888-1951), was a University graduate and playwright who wrote under the pseudonym James Bridie. He was a mainstay of Glasgow University Union where he "invented" Daft Friday in 1905, and the Union's Bridie Library is named for him.

Born in Glasgow, Mavor studied Medicine at the University and graduated in 1913. He threw himself into the social life of Gilmorehill, notably as a contributor to Glasgow University Magazine and as a member of the University Union. He became a firm friend of fellow-student Walter Elliott, a future Secretary of State for Scotland (the two men were co-authors of the Union song, Ygorra). He graduated in 1913.

Bridie served in the First World War in the Royal Army Medical Corps and his later career included spells as a general practitioner, a consulting physician at the Victoria Infirmary and Professor of Medicine at the Anderson College of Medicine, before his increasing success as a dramatist led to his embracing that career full-time.. He was one of the leading British playwrights of his generation, the founder of the Citizens' Theatre, Glasgow, in 1943, and the first chairman of the Scottish Committee of the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts established in 1942, (subsequently the Scottish Committee of the Arts Council of Great Britain). He was instrumental in the establishment of the College of Dramatic Art in 1950, now part of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama in Glasgow.

Mavor wrote over 40 plays in his lifetime. His first play, 'The Sunlight Sonata', presented by the Scottish National Players, directed by Tyrone Guthrie in 1928, followed by 'The Switchback' (1929), and 'What It Is To Be Young' (1929). 'The Anatomist', produced in 1930, and based on the lives of nineteenth century vivisectionist Dr Robert Knox, and the body-snatchers Burke and Hare, was his first major success. This success continued throughout the 1930s and 40s with, amongst others, 'Jonah and the Whale' (1932), 'Mary Read' (1934) with Flora Robson and Robert Donat,'Susannah and the Elders' (1937), 'The King of Nowhere' (1938) with Laurence Olivier, 'Mr Bolfry' (1943) with Alastair Sim,, 'The Forrigan Reel' (1944), 'Dr Angelus' (19470), 'Daphne Laureola' (1949) with Edith Evans and Peter Finch and 'Mr Gillie' and 'The Queen's Comedy' (1950).

In 1939 he was awarded an honorary LL.D from Glasgow University, and received his CBE in 1946. He died in Edinburgh in 1951. In 1955 Glasgow University Union purchased a bronze head of Mavor/Bridie by Benno Schotz. The Bridie Dinner, introduced that year, became a feature of Daft Friday at the Union.


Osborne Henry Mavor
Physician and Playwright

Born 3 January 1888.
Died 29 January 1951.
GU Degrees: MB ChB, 1913; LLD, 1939;
University Link: Alumnus, Honorary Graduate
Occupation categories: physicians; playwrights
NNAF Reference: GB/NNAF/P139694
View Major Archive Collection Record
Search for this person in the DNB
Record last updated: 16th Apr 2013

University Connections

University Roles

  • Alumnus
  • Honorary Graduate


World Changing Achievements

Osborne Henry Mavor is listed on the University of Glasgow World Changing website.

On This Day Entries