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Award-winning newspaper columnist dies aged 92

A leading Welsh writer who was named Columnist of the Year at last year’s Regional Press Awards has died at the age of 92.

Elaine Morgan, who still wrote for the Western Mail until earlier this year, died peacefully at Prince Charles Hospital in Merthyr Tydfil at 7am on Friday morning.

She wrote her final column for the paper in January and decided to retire after suffering a stroke.

Her long and varied life encompassed experience as an author, TV writer, lecturer and scientific rebel as well as newspaper columnist.

Western Mail editor Alan Edmunds said: “In Elaine Morgan’s passing, Wales has lost one of its most respected and celebrated thinkers. Never afraid to ask the difficult questions, Elaine’s breadth of influence in so many fields will be her lasting legacy.

“We were privileged to have the opportunity of working with her at Media Wales and her questing mind and fierce intellect will be missed as much as her human warmth and compassion.”

Ceri Gould, editor of WalesOnline, added:  “Elaine was exceptional: a woman of towering intellect and talent who was able to achieve so much with such little fuss. Simply, in the tradition of all Valleys women, she ‘just got on with it’.

“It has been my privilege to work alongside her for so many years and it was always my weekly treat that I could read her Western Mail columns first, before they were published. I was always, and remain, in awe of Elaine Morgan.”

Born in Hopkinstown, Pontypridd, Elaine was a miner’s daughter who continued to live in her old family home in Mountain Ash, Rhondda Cynon Taf.

As a Bafta-winning screenwriter, she was best remembered for the BBC adaptations of How Green Was My Valley (1975) and Testament of Youth (1979).

During the same decade she also took on the scientific establishment, challenging the traditional narrative of evolution as an aggressive battle for survival in her best-selling book The Descent of Woman.

Initially seen as a scientific maverick, she won respect for the thoroughness and tenacity of her argument and in 2009 she was awarded an OBE for services to literature and education; in the same year she was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Earlier this year she was made an honorary freeman of Rhondda Cynon Taf borough and was also an honorary fellow of Cardiff and Glamorgan universities.