Alastair Borthwick

Alastair Borthwick was one of Scotland’s great writers of the 20th Century. He lived an eventful life that encompassed most of that century. Borthwick lived through two World Wars and served in one. He saw the decline of the aristocracy and the rise of a new middle class.

What makes Alastair Borthwick so unusual for his time is that unlike others, he documented these events. In the 1930s, he first became a mountain climber and writer. His 1939 book Always a Little Further tracked changes in the world of outdoor sports. What had once been the domain of the upper classes became a working-class pursuit. Young people from crowded cities like Glasgow took to hitchhiking around the countryside and climbing mountains.

Alastair Borthwick saw World War II unfold from a number of different angles. He entered the war as a private, and ended up as a commissioned officer. His book about the war, Battalion shows the war from the perspective of infantrymen in the 5th Seaforth Highlanders. Go Here to learn more.

Borthwick’s career changed with the times. He was nothing if not an adaptable man. In the post-war era, his projects took advantage of changes to broadcast media. He became a producer for the BBC in the late 40s and early 50s. He also helped organize an exhibition about engineering in Scotland for the Festival of Britain. Because of this, he was honored with an OBE in the 1952 New Year Honours list.

Borthwick was a well-rounded man. He had a practical streak in addition to his creative side. Alastair Borthwick was a devoted husband to his wife, Anne. He also loved the countryside and worked as a farmer during the post-war era. Borthwick lived to see the 21st century, passing away in 2013 at 90 years old. He is still remembered fondly.


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