By Nicholas Mairs
Scottish writer and journalist Ian Bell has died at the age of 59.
The Sunday Herald columnist was previously Scottish editor of The Observer, and also worked for The Herald, The Scotsman and the Daily Record.
Bell started his career as a sub-editor and then a lead writer, where he was recognised as a voice for the pro-independence side during the 2014 referendum.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: ‘This is devastating news. Ian Bell was one of Scotland’s finest writers and a man of deep intellect and principle.’
Scottish media personalities paid tribute to the Edinburgh-born writer following the news.
His former Sunday Herald colleague and fellow columnist Ian McWhirter tweeted: ‘Loss of my colleague Ian Bell leaves an aching void in Scottish journalism. He set the standard we all tried to equal, but never could’.
The Herald writer Hugh MacDonald said: ‘His character can be accurately gauged by the tone and humanity of his columns. But it was a joy to read him, it was a blessing to know him. He was a great writer and a good man.’
Bell was also recognised as a biographer, having written on Robert Louis Stevenson and Bob Dylan.
He was a multi-award winner, winning the Columnist of the Year award on several occasions. He was also the recipient of the George Orwell Prize for Journalism in 1997.
Glasgow broadcaster Hardeep Singh Kohli honoured Bell’s accolades. He said: ‘The Scottish Columnist of the Year was affectionately known as the Ian Bell Prize, he won it that often…’
He is survived by his wife Mandy and son Sean.
Sean Bell, in a statement issued on behalf of the family, said: “Our family has lost a husband, a father and a son and Scotland has lost its finest journalist. He set a standard none shall ever reach again yet he inspired us to never stop trying.
‘We ask that our privacy is respected at this difficult time.’
The Sunday Herald has vowed to pay a ‘fulsome tribute’ to their former writer in this weekend’s edition.