Douglas Young (classicist)
|Leader of the Scottish National Party|
30 May 1942 – 9 June 1945
|Preceded by||William Power|
|Succeeded by||Bruce Watson|
5 June 1913|
Tayport, Fife, Scotland
|Died||23 October 1973
Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States
|Political party||Scottish National Party|
|Spouse(s)||Helena Auchterlonie (m. 1943–1973)|
|Alma mater||University of St Andrews
University of Oxford
|Profession||Lecturer, Professor (Classics)|
Douglas Cuthbert Colquhoun Young (5 June 1913 – 23 October 1973) was a Scottish poet, scholar, translator and politician. He was the leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) from 1942 to 1945, and was a Classics professor at McMaster University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Early Life & Education
Young was born in Tayport, Fife, the son of Stephen Young, a mercantile clerk employed in India by a Dundee jute firm. Young senior had insisted that his pregnant wife return home to give birth to their son in Scotland. However, shortly after his birth in Fife, the infant Douglas Young was taken to India with his mother, where he spent the early part of his childhood in Bengal, speaking Urdu as a second language there.
From the age of eight Young attended Merchiston Castle School in Edinburgh, where he developed a deep interest in history and the classics. He studied at the University of St Andrews, graduating with an first-class MA in Classics in 1934, and then at New College, Oxford from 1935 to 1938. Young began his professional academic career at the University of Aberdeen, where was assistant lecturer in Greek from 1938 to 1941. A giant man, standing at 6 feet and 7 inches (200 cm) tall, he also possessed a large range of talents over a wide array of subjects and was recognised as a polymath.
SNP during World War II
Already a member of the Labour Party, in 1938 Douglas Young joined the Scottish National Party (SNP), serving as chair of the SNP in Aberdeen during the 1940s. The SNP was pledged to oppose conscription, except by a Scottish government, and Young refused to register either for military service or as a conscientious objector during World War II. He served two terms in prison, reading Greek as much as possible in his cell. Christian Kopff wrote an article called "A Free-Minded Scot" which is a biography of Douglas Young focusing on his efforts to test whether the Act of Union could force Scots to serve in the British Military outside the British Isles. Young's activities were popularly vilified as undermining the British war effort against the Nazis. Kopff portrays Young as a hero for his attempts (Kopff, 1995).
Of his first prison term, served in Saughton, Douglas Young wrote:
"On weekdays I used to work about the grounds in what was called 'the garden party' and on Sundays I played a wheezy old harmonium for the Presbyterian services in the chapel".
Dr. Robert McIntyre, secretary of the SNP, organised a procession complete with bagpipes to serenade Young on Sundays at the prison-gates. Shortly after his release from prison, Young stood as the SNP candidate in the Kirkcaldy Burghs by-election in February 1944. His election agent was Arthur Donaldson and the campaign owed much to the input of Dr. Robert McIntyre. In a three-way contest, Douglas Young polled 6,621 votes 42% of the poll, securing a strong second place to the successful Coalition Labour candidate Thomas Hubbard.
Following the war, Douglas Young was lecturer in Latin at University College, Dundee from 1947 to 1953, then lecturer in Greek at the University of St Andrews from 1953 to 1968. Young resigned from the SNP in 1948, in protest against the party's new constitution, which prohibited being a member of the SNP while also being a member of another political party. He had been a member of both the Labour Party and the SNP until he was elected leader in 1942, and had argued against efforts to ban dual party membership when this was proposed over the next few years leading up to the passing of the new constitution. Young rejoined the Labour Party in June 1951, partly because of the perilous situation the party found itself in with its small majority following the 1950 general election. He also felt that the response to the Scottish Covenant was certain to bring about the establishment of a Scottish Parliament, which he had supported as a Labour Party member.
In 1952, Young travelled with Naomi Mitchison as part of an Authors' World Peace Appeal delegation to the Soviet Union. Here Young met several Russian authors, including Mikhail Zoshchenko and Samuil Marshak. During the visit, the Soviet authorities "refused to transmit a radio script" where Young stated the Western European view of the Korean War. Young served as president of Scottish PEN from 1958 to 1962, and in 1967 he was a founder member of the 1320 Club, which sought to provide a nationalist alternative to the SNP. In 1968, he moved to Canada to a post as professor of classics at McMaster University, where he taught until 1970. He was then Paddison Professor of Greek at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1970 until his death.
Later Life & Death
Douglas Young died at Chapel Hill in October 1973, aged 60. Married in 1943 to the Scottish ceramic artist Helena (Hella) Auchterlonie (1910–1999), the couple had two daughters.
- Quislings in Scotland: Review of the Fifth Column, 1942
- Auntran Blads, 1943
- A Braird o Thristles, 1947
- Chasing an Ancient Greek, 1950
- Scottish Verse, 1851–1951, 1952
- The Puddocks, 1957
- The Burdies, 1959
- Theognis, 1961
- Edinburgh in the age of Sir Walter Scott, 1965
- Hippolytus, 1968
- St. Andrews: Town and Gown, Royal and Ancient, 1969
- Scotland, 1971
- Oresteia, 1974
-  Derick S. Thomson, Young, Douglas Cuthbert Colquhoun (1913–1973)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press
- 'Douglas Young, poet and nationalist', The Glasgow Herald, 27 October 1973, p.7
- 'Scottish Nationalist Leaves Party', The Glasgow Herald, 17 November 1948, p.6
- 'Mr Douglas Young Rejoins Labour', The Glasgow Herald, 26 June 1951, p.5
- "Soviet Bans Scots Poet's Peace Talk",Evening Times, 30 October 1952, (p.2).
- Obituary, 'Hella Young', The Herald, 12 October 1999
|Party political offices|
|Chairman (Leader) of the Scottish National Party