William Scott was born on February 15, 1913 at Greencock, Scotland. In 1928 William began his art studies at the Belfast School of Art. In 1931 he went to London to study at the Royal Academy, at first studying sculpture and then painting, first in London and Cornwall and the abroad. In 1937, he traveled to France and Italy with summers in Brittany where he started a summer painting school.
In July 1941 Scott went to live in a cottage in Hallatrow, Somerset, and, shortly after, started teaching at the Bath Art Academy. In September, 1942 he held his first one-man exhibit at the Leger Gallery in Bond Street. Then, for four years he worked as volunteer in the Royal Engineers and therefore could not paint with any consistancy till after his discharge. In 1946 he was appointed Painting Professor at the Bath Academy of Art, at Corsham Court. Scott was an excellent teacher, as many of his first students can confirm, and teaching was a great stimulus of his art. In 1953 he exhibited at the Hanover Gallery, an excellent connection that continues to this day. His paintings were being shown also outside England, in Sao Paolo, Brazil, in 1953 and in New York in 1954 at the Martha Jackson Gallery.
It was his first trip to the United States which, without having been subject to any outside influences, brought about a profound evolution in his painting. There he met and befriended Jackson Pollock and the Willem De Kooning and during a second trip he met many others such as Marc Rothko and Franz Kline. In 1956 he held his first exhibition in America and taught in Corsham.
In 1959 Scott won the first prize at the second John Moore's Exhibition in Liverpool. During the next ten-year period, he passed one year in Berlin, 1963/64, teaching at the Hamburg Academy.
In April and May of 1972 his works were exhibited in an anthological show at the Tate Gallery in London, and the next year he travelled in Australia, Mexico, Canada and Singapore. In 1975 Scott received an Honorary Doctor's degree at the Royal College of Art in London; in 1976 he received a Doctorate degree at the Queen's University in Belfast and in 1977 he received a Doctorate degree at the Trinity College in Dublin. In 1984 he was elected member of the Royal Academy of Arts in London.
In 1986 an important retrospective exhibition of his works was given at the Ulster Museum in Belfast, from there going on to Dublin and Edinburgh. In that same year he received the fisrt prize of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition.
He died in his home at Coleford on December 28, 1989.