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Librarian turned daily reporter dies aged 80

A newspaper librarian who worked her way on to a daily newsroom before forging a career as a successful author has died aged 80.

Margaret Macaulay worked on Glasgow-based daily The Herald in the 1950s and 1960s but found fame in later life after publishing her first book The Prisoner of St Kilda, which was shortlisted for the Saltire Society first book award, at the age of 75.

Born in Campbeltown, Kintyre, she was the first of her family to go to university, graduating from Glasgow with an honours degree in history in 1956.

Staying in the city, she began as a librarian at The Herald before working in the reporters’ room where she met her husband Colin.

However, her spell on the staff at the daily came to a halt in 1964 with the birth of their first child.

She continued to freelance for The Herald for many years (often using the pen names Kate Hamilton or Elizabeth Laird), and wrote a food column, features on family life, and TV reviews.

However, the couple did not have a home telephone which meant Margaret would have to dictate copy from the nearest phone box.

The family moved to her birthplace Campbeltown in 1968 when Colin became editor of the Campbeltown Courier and then settled in Penicuik in 1970 when he was employed as a sub-editor by The Scotsman.

The couple divorced in 1983.

Margaret worked as a primary school teacher for 10 years before taking a job as a buyer for a book shop’s antiquarian department.

The Prisoner of St Kilda documented the true story of an eighteenth century Scottish noblewoman imprisoned for seven years in the Outer Hebrides by her husband, and involved seven years researching her story prior to publication.

At the time of her death Margaret had been undergoing chemotherapy for secondary breast cancer but contracted a lung infection. When she was in hospital, she was still writing short stories.

She is survived by her brother Wylie and her three children Christina, Henri and Niall, as well as her grandchildren.