WHEN the playwright Ena Lamont Stewart died, aged 93, in 2006, prominently mentioned in her obituaries was her classic play, Men Should Weep.

A searing portrait of Glasgow tenement life during the 1930s Depression, it was a success in Glasgow in 1947, staged by Unity Theatre at the Athenaeum, and then in London.

But she had to wait a long time for the play to be rediscovered – until 1982, in fact, when it was revived in a production directed by Giles Havergal as part of 7:84 Scotland’s Clydebuilt programme of lost working-class masterpieces.

Reviewing the revival, our critic, Mary Brennan, wrote: “This finely structured masterly study of poverty in ‘30s Glasgow uses the different reactions of the women in the family as a prism reflecting not only the physical miseries inflicted by poverty but also the mental and spiritual corrosion which deprivation precipitates.”

By the time it was named as one of the best 100 plays of the 20th century in 2000, Men Should Weep was regarded as a genuine modern classic.

When it was revived again in 2010 at London’s Lyttelton Theatre, the Guardian’s drama critic, Michael Billington, wrote: “This play, set in a Glasgow tenement in the 1930s, reminds us what economic hardship really means, and yet has an ebullience that suggests a Scottish [Sean] O’Casey.”

Lamont Stewart continued to write after the initial success of Men Should Weep, but found it very difficult to get her plays staged. It was a severe and lasting blow when her new plays were rejected by the founding father of the Citizens Theatre, James Bridie.

One such dismissal was said to be so damning that she tore her latest script into tiny pieces.

“This remains a landmark play in British drama,” wrote Michael Billington in 2010, “and, if men should weep, it is because Lamont Stewart was discouraged from ever writing a successor to a work that blends such indignation with theatrical exuberance.”

Read more: Herald Diary