James Bridie was born Osborne Henry Mavor on January 3, 1888, in Glasgow, Scotland, the son of Henry A. and Janet (Osborne) Mavor. Bridie said that in 1931, he started calling himself “James Bridie,” after his grandfather James Mavor and his great-grandfather John Bridie, a sea captain. Gradually, the name Bridie—the dramatist half of Osborne Henry Mavor, the doctor—took over, so that by the time of his death, friends such as Priestley had thought of him strictly as Bridie, never as O. H. Mavor.
Near the beginning of his autobiography, One Way of Living, Bridie writes that on January 3, 1938, he takes pleasure, at the age of fifty, in having lived ten different lives in cycles of five years. He describes himself as a Lowland Scot who has no English or Highland blood, no Unconscious Mind, and who therefore is ill-qualified to write an autobiography. Yet he must write one, even though he makes of it a matter of mathematics rather than art, since a Lowland Scot is so ordered in his life, dividing it into three planes—intellectual, moral, and physical—that anyone out of step with it is considered disordered and abnormal. Indeed, Bridie’s life was ordered, at first by a father whom he admired and who, unable to enter medicine because of financial difficulties, wished his son to become a doctor. Later, the order was of his own making.
At twenty-five, Bridie was still an undergraduate, having failed some of his medical courses, particularly anatomy. Eventually, however, he became a resident at the staff of the Royal Infirmary in Glasgow as house...
(The entire section is 647 words.)