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William Lindsay Renwick was born at 32 Kelvin Drive, Glasgow, on the 6th of January 1889, the youngest of five children of Jane Renwick (née Lindsay), a teacher of English, and William Kirkwood Renwick, a mercantile clerk.
Raised in the family home at 12 Arlington Street, Glasgow, William was educated at the local Woodside School. He then went on to enrol at the University of Glasgow in October 1907 and graduated with First Class Honours in English in 1911. In 1912, he was awarded the George A. Clark Scholarship which allowed him to study French & Italian at the Sorbonne, Toulouse and the British School in Rome.
Upon the outbreak of war, William joined the tenth battalion of the Cameronians (The Royal Scottish Rifles) on 27th September 1914. He experienced trench warfare with this regiment & rose quickly in the ranks to become a Captain, serving at home and in France where his battalion took part in the Battle of Loos. After experiencing this particularly devastating attack, according to his entry on Glasgow University's Roll of Honour, he felt 'like a ghost, an old ghost, sceptical and disillusioned.'" Six months later, he was invalided and sent home for hospital treatment. Thereafter, he was only to undertake instructional duties.
On 11th October 1917, William wed his fellow Glasgow University graduate, Margaret Lang, at Eastwood Parish Church. Two years later, William returned to civilian life in 1919 and enrolled at Merton College at Oxford University where he completed a thesis on the renaissance poet, Edmund Spenser, and graduated with a B.Litt degree in 1920.
William then returned to Glasgow where he lectured for a short spell at Glasgow University; residing at 32 Keir Street, Pollokshields. It was during this period of 1920-21, that he enrolled for one year in evening classes at The Glasgow School of Art in order to learn bookbinding.
Following this, William moved to Newcastle-upon-Tyne to become Professor of English Literature at the University of Durham in 1921. He remained in this role for the next twenty-four years.
Upon the outbreak of the Second World War, William joined the Home Guard where he was made a commander. He also spent a year in China as a visiting Professor, lecturing with the British Council.
Following the end of the war in 1945, William was appointed Regis Professor of Rhetoric and English Literature at Edinburgh University. Moving to a new home in Edinburgh overlooking Arthur's Seat, he was to remain in this role until he retired in 1959.
He died in 1970, aged eighty-one, in an Edinburgh hospital.
Professor William Lindsay Renwick is commemorated on The Glasgow School of Art's First World War Roll of Honour.
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Sources: Ancestry.co.uk; Archives Hub: http://archiveshub.ac.uk/data/gb237-coll-80; Find My Past: http://www.findmypast.co.uk; Scotland's People: http://www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk.; The University of Glasgow Story: http://www.universitystory.gla.ac.uk/ww1-biography/?id=2885