Ian Maclaren

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Ian Maclaren
Ian Maclaren 001.jpg
Born John Watson
(1850-11-03)3 November 1850
Manningtree, Essex
Died 6 May 1907 (1907-05-07) (aged 56)
Mount Pleasant, Iowa
Nationality Scots

Ian Maclaren (pseudonym of Rev. John Watson; 3 November 1850 – 6 May 1907) was a Scottish author and theologian.


He was the son of John Watson, a civil servant. He was born at Manningtree, Essex, and educated at Stirling and at Edinburgh University, later studying theology at New College, Edinburgh, and at Tübingen.

In 1874 he became a minister of the Free Church of Scotland and became assistant minister of Edinburgh Barclay Church. Subsequently he was minister at Logiealmond in Perthshire and at Glasgow, and in 1880 he became minister of Sefton Park Presbyterian Church, Liverpool, from which he retired in 1905.

Cover of Beside the Bonnie Briar Bush (1894)

In 1896 he was Lyman Beecher lecturer at Yale University, and in 1900 he was moderator of the synod of the English Presbyterian Church. While travelling in the United States he died from blood poisoning, following a bout with tonsilitis,[1] at Mount Pleasant, Iowa. His body was returned to England, and buried in Smithdown Cemetery in Liverpool.[2]

Maclaren's first stories of rural Scottish life, Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush (1894), achieved extraordinary popularity,[3] selling more than 700 thousand copies,[4] and were succeeded by other successful books, The Days of Auld Lang Syne (1895), Kate Carnegie and those Ministers (1896), and Afterwards and other Stories (1898). By his own name Watson published several volumes of sermons, among them being The Upper Room (1895), The Mind of the Master (1896) and The Potter's Wheel (1897).

It is thought that Maclaren was the original source of the quotation “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” now widely misattributed to Plato or Philo of Alexandria. The oldest known instance of this quotation is in the 1897 Christmas edition of The British Weekly: “Be pitiful, for every man is fighting a hard battle.”[5]


Fiction as Ian Maclaren[edit]

Non-fiction as Ian Maclaren[edit]

Books of Sermons as John Watson[edit]


External links[edit]