Fearlessly ploughing a lonely furrow and fiercely loyal to Glasgow, she was never afraid to voice her considerable opinions.

For more than 25 years she was The Guardian’s chief art and theatre critic in Scotland. But her career was launched by her drawings of the theatrical and musical world.

The daughter of a sailor, Mrs Oliver was a former pupil of Glasgow’s Hutchesons’ Grammar School who horrified her teachers by choosing to go to art school rather than concentrate on academic subjects.

“She always liked to tell the story of how her English teacher was so shocked by her going to art school that she never got in touch,” said former Hutchesons’ rector, David Ward, who knew Oliver as an FP. “But when Cordelia began to write for the Manchester Guardian, then she thought she had become a ‘serious’ person and wrote to her and said she was so pleased that she was now doing a ‘proper job’.”

Mrs Oliver studied at Glasgow School of Art between 1940 and 1944, taking the Guthrie Prize for best portrait in her final year. After marrying photographer George Oliver, she moved with her husband to London in the late 1940s. They returned to Scotland in late 1950, when George had become art editor of Scotland’s SMT Magazine, to what the late journalist Jack House, a fervent Glaswegian, liked to call “the far east”, to a Playfair flat in Edinburgh’s New Town.

She sang with the Glasgow Orpheus Choir in the very first Edinburgh Festival in 1947 and only missed one subsequent festival. The Edinburgh Festival became an important part of her life.

Her husband’s job provided him with a roving ticket for anything he wanted to see, including dress rehearsals. Oliver had always loved drawing backstage and managed to get equal access. She was in her element, attempting to pin down every­thing from eminent conductors and soloists in the Usher Hall to the major productions in the Assembly Hall. In 1951, she was employed as a freelance designer and art critic for the then Glasgow Herald, which published her drawings of performers.

She once recalled: “To begin with, I did those drawings purely for pleasure, but within a year or two I found myself sucked into the Glasgow Herald’s increasing festival activity, to provide several relevant sketches for each day’s paper. The adrenalin flow astounds me when I think of it, looking back, but indeed those were exciting times.”

It was the then Manchester Guardian which first published Oliver’s name as its arts critic in Scotland and she inadvertently became controversial as she exhibited her own work as a painter while writing her honest opinion of other artists’ work.

Her writing continued to flourish, not least in books related to her keen interests. They included It is a Curious Story: the Tale of Scottish Opera 1962-87 and Magic In the Gorbals: A Personal Record of the Citizens’ Theatre, illustrated with many historic photographs.

Jeremy Raison and Guy Hollands, artistic directors at the Citizens’ Theatre, recall: “Cordelia Oliver was a great supporter of the Citizens’ Theatre for many years and a unique individual, having witnessed the birth of the Citizens’ and attended from its days of infancy through to the present day.

“Even when she became more frail, she still came to see what was happening at her favourite theatre. She was innately curious to know how it was developing and liked to let us know what she thought of current productions and how they matched up to past work.

“Her personal legacy to this theatre is in many forms, not least of which is her very popular memoir of the Citizens’, which we still sell regularly at the box office. Her book did much to help spread the Citizens’ Theatre’s reputation internationally. She will always have a very special association with this theatre, and will be much missed.”

Mrs Oliver also wrote books on artists she knew and admired: her art school contemporary Joan Eardley RSA, James Cowie FSA and her own husband. Her book Seeing Eye: The Life and Works of George Oliver was illustrated with his stunning photographs taken of Glasgow up until the 1980s.

Her research for her books was exhaustive. When she wrote the biography of Joan Eardley, she tramped every inch of Catterline in research, standing in storms on same Kincardineshire clifftops on which Eardley had painted.

Publisher Bill Williams said: “Personally, what I admired about her was her courage. What I really liked about her was that she was really feisty: she would plough an unpopular furrow without regard to the particular fashion or taste of

the time. I think she was rather unfairly marginalised.”

Mrs Oliver, who lived in Sutherland Avenue, Pollokshields, will be remembered for taking no prisoners in her work. She criticised and praised without favour. She verbally slated Scotland The What? at the King’s Theatre in Glasgow – then invited them home for supper. Late next day they arose to find a glowing review in The Herald.

Writer, critic and artist;

Born April 24, 1923;

Died December 1, 2009.