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Ewan MacColl

Ewan MacColl (1915-1989) was a Scottish playwright, poet, actor and folk-singer.

Born Jimmy Miller, either in Auchterarder, Scotland or in Salford where he was brought up, MacColl changed his name to that of a Scottish poet whom he admired. He took a prominent role in the working-class movements of the 1930s, and, with Joan Littlewood whom he married, co-founded the Theatre Workshop and moved to London, where he embarked on a successful career as an actor and dramatist. George Bernard Shaw called him a genius.

MacColl's abiding interest was in folk music, and he collected traditional ballads.

In 1956, MacColl caused a scandal by leaving his then second wife Jean Newlove for Peggy Seeger, who was many years his junior. It was for her that he wrote the classic, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. His other best-known song is Dirty Old Town, written about his home town of Salford in Lancashire.

Seeger and MacColl recorded several albums of searing political commentary songs.

There is a plaque dedicated to MacColl in Russell Square, Bloomsbury, London. It was "Presented by his communist friends 25.1.1990" and calls him " Folk Laureate - Singer - Dramatist - Marxist " and says " in recognition of strength and singleness of purpose of this fighter for Peace and Socialism".

His daughter from his second marriage, Kirsty MacColl, followed him into a musical career, albeit less traditional.