Tom Leonard

Biography of Tom Leonard

Tom Leonard Glasgow University Magazine 1968
Tom Leonard Glasgow University Magazine 1968

Tom Leonard was a poet and literary critic who graduated from the University in 1976, and was later appointed Professor of Creative Writing.

Born in Glasgow on the 22nd of August, 1944, he grew up in Pollok, in the south side of the city. He attended Lourdes secondary school, finishing in 1962. Before matriculating at the University in 1967, Leonard worked as a clerical officer at the Employment Exchange in Govan, and as a bus conductor.

While studying for a degree in English and Scottish Literature, Leonard became editor of the Glasgow University Magazine. He was a regular contributor to the University publication, which feature examples of his poems, prose and plays. 'Six Glasgow Poems' first appeared as inserts into the Glasgow University Magazine. Philip Hobsbaum was a lecturer in English Literature at the University during the time Leonard was a student, and Tom regularly attended Hobsbaum's creative writing group, which included writers such as Alasdair Gray and Liz Lochhead. Leonard left the University without graduating in 1969.

In 1972, Tom Leonard re-enrolled in the English and Scottish Literature M.A. at the University. During this time, and under the supervision of fellow poet Professor Edwin Morgan, Leonard began a study of the Scottish poet James Thomson. In 1993 he published a biography of Thomson entitled Places of the Mind. Leonard graduated with an M.A. in English and Scottish Literature in 1976.

Upon graduating, Leonard went on to hold writer posts at Renfrew district libraries, the University of Strathclyde and the University of Glasgow. In 1990 he published Radical Renfrew: Poetry from the French Revolution to the First World War, which brought together the poetry of over 60 poets from the west of Scotland. Leonard's own poetry is perhaps best known for its use of the Glaswegian dialect, and its exploration of issues of class and language. Leonard's championing of working class Glaswegian vernacular divided critics: in 1985, for example, the same year Intimate Voices was awarded the Saltire prize for Scottish book of the year, the collection was banned from libraries and schools in the central region of Scotland.

Leonard returned to the University in 2001, as Professor of Creative Writing. He retired from his post at the University in 2009. After a period of illness, Tom Leonard died, aged 74, on the 21st of December 2018.


Tom Leonard
Poet and Literary Scholar

Born 22 August 1944, Glasgow, Scotland.
Died 21 December 2018.
University Link: Alumnus, Graduate, Professor
GU Degree: MA, 1976; English and Scottish Literature,
Occupation categories: literary scholars; poets
Record last updated: 14th Aug 2019

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  • Alumnus
  • Graduate
  • Professor

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