ONE of Greenock's well-known citizens, teacher and writer Janetta Bowie, has died in her 89th year. She was still active, and a few days before her death she had written a poem and was judging entries for an article competition for Greenock Writers' Club.

Janetta never married because her career meant so much to her - in her day teachers had to resign on marriage. She was dux of Greenock High School in 1925, and winner of the Sir Godfrey Collins Prize for English. Because of her mother's belief in the education of women Janetta was able to attend Glasgow University even though her father had died, and she worked every holiday to help to defray the expenses.

In 1928 she graduated MA and went to Jordanhill College of Education to become a teacher at a time when students outnumbered jobs by two to one. By the age of 21 she began her first teaching post, at Jean Street School, Port Glasgow.

She later took a course in infant school method as there was no other means of promotion open to women in primary schools at that time. She also taught in what was known as a junior secondary school where, as later at the women's prison in Greenock, she believed that by learning to express their feelings in words girls could begin to cope better with their lives.

In 1967 she became a member of the Greenock Writers' Club which she supported throughout her life with enthusiasm, giving encouragement to many now well-known writers. She was present at the celebration in 1992 of its jubilee and also in 1994 at the jubilee of the Scottish Association of Writers of which she was a founder member and honorary vice-president.

In 1973 Janetta won the Constable Trophy, presented by the publishers who published her winning entry, Penny Buff, which described a Clydeside school in the 1930s. It was successful and was broadcast as a series to be followed by Penny Boss and Penny Change. These memories of a teacher's life and times were shot with humour about the pupils she had encountered. It is a pity that they are now out of print.

Janetta also wrote poetry and articles which were published in the UK and abroad, especially in the US.

Her love of Scottish literature and language led to her promoting it whenever an opportunity arose. Her own quirky sense of humour was at its best in her children's stories as she was not afraid to make us laugh at our own Scottish foibles. She will be missed by her many friends but she had no surviving relatives.

An appreciation by


president, Scottish

Association of Writers