Born in Greenock, Scotland on 15th February 1913 to an Irish father and Scottish mother, William Scott grew up in Enniskillen, a small town in Northern Ireland. He studied at Belfast College of Art from 1928-31 and at the Royal Academy Schools in London from 1931-35, first in the sculpture school then from 1934 in painting. During his education at the Royal Academy, Scott won a silver medal for sculpture, became a Landseer scholar in painting and on leaving the schools was awarded a Leverhulme Scholarship. In 1936 Scott worked for six months in Mousehole, Cornwall. The following year he married a fellow student at the Royal Academy, Mary Lucas. For the next two years William and Mary Scott travelled and lived abroad, mainly in France, Venice and Rome. William, Mary and Geoffrey Nelson ran an art school at Pont-Aven in Brittany in the summer months of 1938 and 1939, living for the rest of the year in the south at St. Tropez and Cagnes–sur-mer. In 1938 he was elected Societaire du Salon d’Automne, Paris. He left France in the autumn of 1939, spending a few months in Dublin before returning to London. In January 1941 he took a cottage at Hallatrow, near Bristol, where he ran a market garden and taught part-time at Bath Academy.
In 1942 Scott was given his first one-man exhibition at the Leger Galley, London. The same year he volunteered for the army and served nearly four years from 1942-6 in the Royal Engineers, during which time his painting practically ceased. While in the map making section, Scott learnt the technique of lithography. In 1945 he illustrated the Soldier’s Verse, chosen by Patric Dickenson with original lithographs by W. Scott.
In 1946 Scott was appointed Senior Painting Master at Bath Academy, Corsham. He was elected a member of the London Group in 1949 and in 1953, after teaching at a summer school in Canada, Scott visited New York, where he met Jackson Pollock, de Kooning, Rothko and Frans Kline. In 1958 a retrospective exhibition of Scott’s work was exhibited at the British Pavillion at the Venice Biennale, and he was commissioned to create a large mural for Attnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry. In 1959 he was awarded first prize in the painters section at John Moores Liverpool Exhibition. William Scott died on the 28th December 1989.