About Tom McGrath


Tom McGrath (1940 – 2009)

Explorer, Playwright, Poet, Jazz Pianist, Creative Maverick and Visionary

Tom McGrath was born and grew up in Glasgow, his early influences included the slapstick comedy of the music halls, and later, American beat literature and music.

Tom went to London In the early 60’s to take part in the emerging counter culture at the time, and by 1962 his first poems were published.  In 1965 Tom participated in the first International Poetry Olympics at the Royal Albert Hall with Allen Ginsberg, and Gregory Corso amongst others, which became a legendary event. In 1966 Tom was asked to become the founder Editor of the seminal International Times. In the late 60’s Tom returned, with his wife and children to his native Glasgow, and studied English and Drama at Glasgow University.  It was here that he met fellow writers and collaborators, Tom Leonard and Alan Spence. 

Tom was an accomplished musician, with a love of Jazz and blues. In 1972 he was asked to be the Musical Director for the Great Northern Welly Boot Show starring Billy Connelly. By 1973 Tom was appointed as the first artistic Director of the Third Eye Centre, Glasgow, which still exists as the CCA today. In 1976 Tom established himself as a playwright with Laurel and Hardy and began a long association with the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. In 1977 he worked with a newly released Jimmy Boyle on The Hard Man, which premiered at the Traverse before a run in London.

In the early 1980’s Tom was instrumental in founding  the Tron Theatre Club, later to become the Tron Theatre. In the late 1980’s he became the Scottish Arts Council’s Associate Literary Director, based at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh.  It was here that Tom supported and nurtured a new generation of playwrights and poets, including David Harrower, David Greig, Douglas Maxwell and Zinnie Harris. Tom was also writing his own plays, many which were produced by the Lyceum, The Traverse and Tramway.

In 2004 Tom established the Playwrights Studio Scotland to continue his work supporting and inspiring the next generation of writers. He also continued to write, and in 2005 he wrote My Old Man for Magnetic North Theatre Company.

Tom lived with his partner Ella Wildridge in Kingskettle in Fife.  He had 4 daughters and 5 grandchildren.

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