Ian Maclaren was the pen name for the Rev. Dr John Watson who was born in Manningtree, Essex on 3rd November 1850.
Watson was educated at Stirling in Scotland before studying at Edinburgh University. After graduating he then trained as a Free Church minister at New College in Edinburgh, as well as undertaking postgraduate studies at Tübingen, Baden-Württemberg, Germany a renowned centre for Theological and Religious Studies.
In 1874 he obtained his license from the Free Church of Scotland and became assistant minister of Edinburgh Barclay Church.
The following year, 1875, he was ordained as minister at Logiealmond in Perthshire before in 1877, transferring to St Matthews Free Church in Glasgow.
In 1880 Watson became minister of Sefton Park Presbyterian Church in Liverpool and became a prime instigator for the founding of the Westminster College in Cambridge.
Watson published his first volume of short stories, 'Beside the Bonnie Brier Bush', about rural Scottish life in 1894, under the pseudonym Ian MacLaren; the book became a best-seller with sales of over 700,000 copies.
Further works followed including 'The Days of Auld Lang Syne' (1895), 'Kate Carnegie and those Ministers' (1896), and 'Afterwards and other Stories' (1898).
Several volumes of sermons, under his own name, were also published including 'The Upper Room' (1895), 'The Mind of the Master' (1896) and 'The Potter's Wheel' (1897).
In 1896 he was made the Lyman Beecher lecturer at Yale University, and in 1900 he was moderator of the synod of the English Presbyterian Church.
Whilst travelling in the United States he died from blood poisoning, following a bout of tonsillitis, on 6th May at Mount Pleasant, Iowa. He was 56.
His body was repatriated to England, and buried in Smithdown Cemetery in Liverpool.