June 1951: Death of Mr William Power, 1873-1951 – Scots Journalist

William Power’s obituary is on page three of The Glasgow Herald, on Thursday the 14th of June, 1951, and reads:



Mr William Power




The death took place at a hospital in Alloa yesterday of Mr William Power, the author and journalist. He was in his 78th

year and had been for some months in failing health.


In his later years Power was closely associated with Scottish Convention and the movement for setting up a Parliament in

Edinburgh. He was the first chairman of Scottish Convention, afterwards becoming president, and vice-president of the

recently formed Covenant Association. But he is most likely to be remembered as an essayist of great distinction rather than

as a considerable figure in a prolonged agitation for home rule. Power was indeed too much of the romantic and too little

the man of affairs to be a heavy weight in the field of politics, and while his name and presence were of great value to

Scottish Convention he was at his happiest and best in the fields of literature.




Power was Glasgow born, the son of a shipmaster, and the city has had few more devoted admirers. The warm-hearted

people, their gaiety, the romance of smoke and industry, the light and colour of the streets commanded his affection and

he never wrote so well as when his theme was Glasgow and its citizens at work and play. But he was no mere city chronicler.

There could have been few more widely read men in Scotland than Power, who had an astonishing intellectual curiosity and

an even more astonishing capacity for absorbing knowledge. His formal education ended at the age of 14, when he entered

the Gallowgate branch of the Royal Bank of Scotland, but he continued to read and enlarge his field of learning into old age.


But, like Mr Gladstone, Power conducted his reading on a regular system of imports and exports, and it was not enough for

him merely to take in knowledge. So the young bank clerk committed himself to an apprenticeship to writing. In 1907 his

Saturday essays in ‘The Glasgow Herald’ had attracted so much attention that he determined to cut loose from banking and

in that year he joined the staff of that paper, where he remained for nearly 20 years.


In the creative sense these were Power’s best years, as is testified by his two books, ‘The World Unvisited’ (1922) and ‘Robert

Burns and Other Essays’ (1926), which collected some of his ‘Glasgow Herald’ essays. This was his metier rather than the

field of politics and leader-writing to which he was committed during the First World War. Eventually he grew tired of what

he called the ‘necessary restrictions of leader-writing on a big daily’ and in 1926 when the ‘Scots Observer’ was founded he

became its first editor. This was a new weekly paper backed by people who felt there was room for a periodical devoted specially

to the Scottish Churches, and Power threw himself into the venture with enthusiasm. On the literary side he was perfectly

equipped, he had a distinguished list of contributors, and the paper began with plenty of public good will.




Power, however, although he had had 20 years’ experience on a newspaper was not in the fullest sense a trained journalist, the

venture lacked capital, and Power himself had no close associations with the life of the Church in Scotland. Although he did not

spare himself the paper failed to prosper, and after three years he resigned his editorship.


Thereafter Power returned to daily journalism. But the ‘Scots Observer’ had exhausted him, for although he continued to write

with great facility he failed to recapture the sweep and rhythm of his earlier writing. He brought out a number of books,

including a discursive autobiography, ‘Should Auld Acquaintance,’ engaged himself actively in the affairs of the Scottish P.E.N.,

whose president he was from 1935 to 1938, and advanced the cause of the Scottish literary revival and that of Scottish

Nationalism. In 1940 he stood as a Scottish Nationalist candidate in the Parliamentary by-election in Argyll when Major Duncan

McCallum was returned.


As a man Power was popular wherever he went. No one could have been kinder to young writers. He was an engaging companion,

always full of talk which ranged from the whole world of literature and life, and his warm heart and generous nature will be

remembered by his friends. Power, whose home was in Stirling, was twice married. His second wife died in 1946.”



The obituary includes a photograph of William Power.



George Fairfull-Smith, December 2022.