Richard Wilson Obituary | Newspapers and magazines

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My friend Richard Wilson, who died of cancer at the age of 78, was a journalist who worked at various times as an opinion editor at the Daily Telegraph, deputy editor at the Express and deputy editor from the Glasgow Herald. He also spent time in Amsterdam as deputy editor of KLM’s airline magazine and wrote 11 books.

Born in Forfar, Scotland, Rick was the son of Harry Wilson, a police sergeant, and Jean (née McDiarmid), an accountant. After attending Montrose Academy, at the age of 16, he got a job at Montrose Standard. A first assignment was to interview pop star Wee Willie Harris. Other celebrity interviews led to a job at DC Thomson as a showbiz columnist at a teen magazine: it was by Paul Destiny and the column was A Date With Destiny. He became Deputy Editor of the Scottish Daily Express in 1963, rising to the Fleet Street title in 1966.

When in 1970 he was invited to be deputy editor of the Holland Herald, KLM’s in-flight magazine, in Amsterdam, it seemed a bold move, but he fell in love with the city, living in an apartment on the edge of the canal with high windows, and had the chance to interview John Lennon and Rod Steiger. He returned to London in 1974 to become editor of Time and Tide magazine, but took the opportunity to return to Amsterdam as deputy editor from 1978 to 1980 of the English-language magazine Holland Life.

I met him when I worked for a few years at the Holland Herald. One of my lasting memories is of Rick doing a Highland adventure along an Amsterdam canal with Ken Wilkie, the editor. It was a joyous and anarchic time; we filled the magazine with quirky, offbeat stories and advice on the best coffees, and drank copious amounts of juniper (gin).

In 1980 Rick became the founding editor of Scotsman’s Color magazine. He left the Scotsman in 1990 to become deputy editor of the Daily Telegraph. In 1992 he went to the Glasgow Herald as deputy editor until 1998.

Later he became a freelance writer and editor, and he never officially retired. His 11 books included biographies of castaway Alexander Selkirk and Robert Fergusson, the young poet who inspired Robert Burns, and four novels.

Richard is survived by his second wife, Alison (née Graham), whom he married in 1984, and their children, Charli and Harry, and seven grandchildren, and by his son Christiaan, from his first marriage, with Johanna Blankestijn, which ended in divorce.

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