December 1961: Death of Mrs William Bilsland (Elsie Smeaton Munro) – Glasgow Playwright

Mrs William Bilsland – Elsie Smeaton Munro – died on the 20th of December, 1961, at 8 Prince Albert Road in Glasgow. The notice of her

death is on page twelve of The Glasgow Herald, on Friday the 22nd.  Her obituary is on page eleven, and reads:



Glasgow Writer


The death has occurred in Glasgow of Mrs William Inglis Bilsland, who

took a prominent and versatile part, under her maiden name of Elsie

Smeaton Munro, in the literary and theatrical activities which characterised

the social life of Glasgow early in the century. She was 79.


She was a kinswoman of Neil Munro.


As a singer with a fine mezzo soprano voice, she sang the principal role in

Allan Macbeth’s 1904 production of ‘La Fille de Madame Angot’ at the

Grand Theatre. In 1928 she was writing and broadcasting the Children’s

Hour B.B.C. pioneer programme from the first B.B.C. centre in Glasgow,

in Blythswood Square.


Between these two dates she was a frequent contributor of topical verse

of a Gilbertian quality to Glasgow evening newspapers, many of them

illustrated with her own pen and ink sketches.




Her published works included ‘Glasgow Flourish’ and, illustrated by Heath

Robinson, ‘Topsy-Turvy Tales.’ Among plays which she wrote, produced,

and acted in at the Athenaeum Theatre were ‘The Little Old Maid,’ ‘The

Cottage of Content,’ and also the libretto of ‘The Kink,’ to music by the late

George Henry Martin.


She wrote songs and sketches for the principal comedians of her day,

including Neil Kenyon, George French, and Will Fyffe – whose rendering

of her ‘Tattiebogle’ was one of the hits of the 1945 Alhambra Christmas



Although she retired from writing activities in her latter years Mrs

Bilsland continued to take a close interest in the theatre.”



The Elsie Smeaton Munro Collection of Theatre Memorabilia, c. 1900-1962, is in the Scottish Theatre Archive,

Archives and Special Collections, Glasgow University Library.




George Fairfull-Smith, July 2022.