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Alex McNail (Alexander McNeill) was born in Rose Street in Glasgow on the 15th of August 1885 and was one of four children of Helen McNeill, (née Pringle) a dressmaker and Alexander McNeill, a shoemaker. He had an older sister, Elizabeth, and two younger brothers, James and John. Though his name is spelt "McNail" on the Roll of Honour, it is likely that this is an error as his name is spelt "McNeill" on his birth certificate and various other records. McNeill attended The Glasgow School of Art from 1903 to 1904 as a part time student of design. He also attended from 1904 to 1905 and 1907 to 1908 and though his course details and birth dates for these semesters are unmarked, he is noted to have worked as a bootmaker, most likely alongside his father. From 1908 to 1909, he attended as a part time student of painting and printmaking. From 1912 to 1915, he studied as a part time student of etching. During the First World War, McNeill served as part of the Royal Scots battalion. He was a known Glasgow engraver and dry point etcher and exhibited many times in places such as the Royal Scottish Academy and the Glasgow Institute. There are at least 57 of his works in Glasgow. McNeill died on the 3rd of December 1950, aged 65. McNeill is commemorated on The Glasgow School of Art's First World War Roll of Honour.
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