Mamie Magnusson

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Mamie Magnusson
Mamie Magnusson.png
Mamie Ian Baird

(1925-10-24)24 October 1925
Rutherglen, Scotland
Died12 April 2012(2012-04-12) (aged 86)
Balmore, Scotland
Known forNewspaper journalist and author
(m. 1954)
Children5; including Sally and Jon
RelativesArchie Baird (brother)

Mamie Ian Magnusson (née Baird; 24 October 1925 – 12 April 2012)[1] was a pioneering Scottish newspaper journalist and author.

Early life[edit]

Baird and her twin sister Anna were born to a working class household in Rutherglen in 1925.

Baird's middle name, Ian, was on account of the fact that her father, John (a janitor at Bankhead Primary School) had been expecting a boy.[1] Her brother, Archie Baird, was a noted footballer for Aberdeen and Scotland in addition to being an escapee from a German prisoner-of-war camp.[2]

The two sisters attended Rutherglen Academy where Baird's desire to become a journalist was well known. Her Latin teacher mentioned the fact to a senior member of staff at The Sunday Post newspaper during a chance meeting.[2] Baird was invited to submit a piece of writing which she submitted in a journalistic style and was rewarded with her first job in journalism as a result.[2]


Baird began her career as a journalist aged seventeen[3] working for The Sunday Post in the nineteen forties[4] before eventually being headhunted in 1947 by the Scottish Daily Express,[1][5] the biggest selling daily newspaper of the time.[5]

Her big scoop came in October that year when she visited Birkhall in Deeside where Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh were honeymooning. Though expecting to be turned away, Baird was surprised to be invited inside and was therefore able to give her readers an exclusive glimpse inside their honeymoon suite during a period of high interest in the newlyweds.[1][2]

It was also while working at the Scottish Daily Express that she met her future husband, the writer and presenter Magnus Magnusson.[1] The couple married in 1954[1] and enjoyed the joke that he had only married her to get her job[2] since he had been four years her junior at the paper.[2]

Taking maternity leave in the years that followed only paused her writing temporarily. Roger Wood, editor of the Express, visited Baird and urged her to continue to write columns for the paper where she had established herself.[2]

Baird continued to work as a freelance writer whilst bringing up the couple's children[3] and it was not unknown for her to do half the researching and writing on books commissioned to her husband.[2] Her own commissions, a history of the Women's Guild and a history of the Scottish Mutual Assurance Society were both well-received[2] and she was a regular after dinner speaker for the Scottish Literary Agency.[2]

Personal life[edit]

The family moved from Garrowhill to Balmore as it grew in size with a total of five offspring: Sally, Margaret, Anna, Jon and Siggy.[2]

Pre-deceased by husband Magnus and son Siggy, Mamie died on 12 April 2012, after suffering from dementia for eight years. She was eighty-six.[2]

Her eldest daughter, the broadcaster Sally Magnusson, has since written a memoir, Where Memories Go: Why Dementia Changes Everything.[6]


In 1982, The Glasgow Herald columnist, Jack Webster wrote of Baird:

“Her secret springs from a wonderfully observant eye... She stood in her own right as Mamie Baird, one of the finest journalists of her day.”[1]


  • Out of Silence: The Women's Guild (1887–1987)
  • A Length of Days:The Scottish Mutual Assurance Society (1883–1983)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Davison, Phil (19 April 2012). "Obituary: Mamie Magnusson; made her name in journalism when women were rarely seen in news rooms". The Scotsman. Retrieved 27 August access
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Mamie Magnusson". The Herald. Glasgow. 18 April 2012. Retrieved 27 August 2017.
  3. ^ a b Carlyle, Rachel (2 February 2014). "BBC presenter Sally Magnusson on her mum's battle with dementia". Daily Express. Retrieved 31 August access
  4. ^ Tyzak, Anna (25 January 2014). "We must give dementia sufferers a good quality of life". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 August access
  5. ^ a b Smith, Kenny (24 April 2012). "Rutherglen's Mamie Magnusson dies, aged 86". dailyrecord. Retrieved 27 August access
  6. ^ Grant, Linda (31 January 2014). "Where Memories Go: Why Dementia Changes Everything by Sally Magnusson – review". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 1 September access

External links[edit]

  1. Photograph album of Mamie Baird on the BBC website.
  2. Interview with Sally Magnusson on her mother on the BBC Radio 4 website.