The Life of Alastair Borthwick, a Journeyman Writer

Born in Rutherglen but raised in Troon and later Glasgow, Alastair Borthwick, (17 February 1913 – 25 September 2003), was a Scottish author, journalist, broadcaster, and organizer of national exhibitions who was passionate about climbing.

Literary Works

He published the book Always a Little Further in 1939 popularizing climbing as a sport of the working class at a time when most mountaineering literature focused on the rich and famous. The book captured the carefree times of simple people wandering through the fantastic Scottish highlands, and it was well received.

During the Second World War, he got assigned as an Intelligence Officer to the 5th Seaforth Highlanders. The position got him to see a lot of action. Just before the end of the war, the Seaforths’ Colonel asked him to write a battalion history.

Alastair Borthwick wrote Sans Peur in 1946 giving a graphic account of the life of the British Seaforths in Northern Europe, North Africa, and Sicily. It focused on the way a group of naïve civilians changed into an efficient fighting unit. The book was later republished as Battalion and received excellent reviews.

His Career

At 16, Alastair Borthwick became a telephone boy at the Glasgow Evening Herald where he wrote down interviews with his correspondents.

His numerous talents saw him move to a busier publication that had five people filling 28 pages. He got promoted to the position of writer and author of the Readers’ Letters and Readers’ Queries, Women’s Page, Film Reviews, Children’s Page, and Crossword Compiler. He regularly contributed to the front page.

A project which was known as “Open Air Page” introduced Alastair Borthwick to outdoor recreation activities eventually building his passion for rock climbing.

In 1935, he got hired and fired after a year by the Daily Mirror. An interview at the BBC on climbing revealed his talent in broadcasting. His natural ability to be casual and friendly in an environment that demanded formality gave Alastair Borthwick a career in broadcasting from 1934 to 1995.

Alastair Borthwick considered himself a journeyman writer who always carried out tasks as required. He would like to be remembered as a man who was still printable and never broke a deadline.

Author, Journalist

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