The Great Scot who founded the publishing company that gave birth to the Broons, Oor Wullie, the Beano and the Dandy

David Coupar Thomson (23 May 1861 – 12 December 1954) was the proprietor of the newspaper and publishing company D. C. Thomson & Co. Ltd.
Thomson was born in Dundee, Scotland to William T and Margaret C Thomson. He went to Newport-on-Tay Primary School in Fife and then to the High School of Dundee. At 16 years of age, he was sent to the family shipping business in Glasgow.

His father, William Thomson, was a successful draper and later a shipowner, and in 1884 became the major shareholder of the Dundee Courier & Daily Argus. In 1886, at his father’s request, David Coupar Thomson moved back to Dundee to become the general manager of the paper. The other son, Frederick, joined the company in 1888.

In 1905, D.C. Thomson Ltd. was founded with £60,000 capital. William, David and Frederick had all but four of the company shares which were valued at £10 per share. Each wife had an allocation of one share; the remaining share belonged to Frances Thomas Mudie.

When Frederick died in 1917, D.C. became the sole proprietor of the company. Between 1920 and 1922, he actively campaigned using vitriolic rhetoric against one of the two M.P.s for Dundee, the Liberal politician Winston Churchill. At one meeting, Churchill was able to speak for only 40 minutes when he was barracked by a section of the audience. At the General Election of 1922 both of the local newspapers owned by Thomson, the Liberal supporting “Dundee Advertiser” and the Conservative inlined “Courier” advised their readers to reject Churchill. Subsequently, Churchill came only fourth in the poll and lost his seat at Dundee to prohibitionist, Edwin Scrymgeour, quipping later that he left Dundee “without an office, without a seat, without a party and without an appendix”. Thomson barred Churchill’s name from his newspapers until World War II made occasional use of it unavoidable.

During the General Strike of 1926, most employees of his publishing concern were members of National Society of Operative Printers and Assistants (Natsopa). David Coupar Thomson was outraged by the strike and the effect it had on his business. Earlier in 1926, his company took over the rival company John Lang & Co. which produced the “Dundee Advertiser”. The strike coincided with the merger. After the strike, Natsopa members were allowed to return provided the members signed a document to say that they had left the union and tender an apology. In March 1952, a strike was caused when a man who had worked for the company since 1921 was discovered to have secretly joined Natsopa in 1939.

Although Thomson was less involved with the company after 1933, he remained chairman of the company until his death, aged 93, in 1954; but it was his nephew, Harold, who drove the expansion of its publishing interests, particularly in the field of comics. The Sunday Post, launched in 1914, introduced a “Fun” section in 1936 which became home to iconic cartoon characters such as Oor Wullie and The Broons. The Dandy — which included Desperate Dan — first appeared in the following year, and The Beano eight months later, offering a free “Whoopee Mask” with its first issue.

D.C. Thomson married Margaret McCuloch and had a daughter, Irene Elma Coupar Thomson. In Dundee he was Deputy Lieutenant for 50 years, Governor of University College for nearly 60 years and was also an active member of Dundee Chamber of Commerce and Dundee Eye Institute. He is buried at Western Cemetery, Dundee.

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