James Maxton was born on 22 June 1885 in Pollokshaws. Both his parents were schoolteachers and his father in particular was a Tory/Unionist.
Maxton was educated at Grhamston Public School in Barrhead and at the age of 12 won a scholarship to Hutecheson's Grammar School.
He was "matriculated" at Glasgow University in 1903. His stay there was protracted because of exam failures. He passed English at the tenth attempt and never did obtain a pass in moral philosophy.
However he did eventually graduate with an MA in 1909 and the setbacks were said to be because he'd neglected his studies by throwing himself into both sport and politics.
Certainly Maxton was questioning his inherited unionism and, influenced by various socialist texts, he joined the ILP.
After University, like his parents, he went into teaching. And together with John Maclean he taught evening classes to rank and file workers.
He and Maclean were firm friends and both denounced the First World War. Indeed Maxton's dogged opposition to conscription lost him his teaching job and in May 1916 -found guilty of sedition- he was sentenced to a year in Calton jail.
After World War One he stood for Parliament. At first he was unsuccessful and he returned to University between 1920 and 1922 to take classes in Political Economy, Forensic Medicine and Public International Law. The feeling was that he intended to complete a law degree.
However in 1922 he won Bridgeton for Labour and went to Westminster. There he espoused the cause of Home Rule. "We could do more in five years in a Scottish Parliament than could be produced by 25 or 30 years heart-breaking working in the British House of Commons" he said.
Maxton also played an important role in the General Strike alongside the miners leader AJ Cook. And it was Labour's lack of support for the miners that in part led him to side with the ILP when it went its' own way in the 30's.
Maxton died on 23 July 1946. Winston Churchill would describe him as the "greatest parliamentarian of his day."