Former Scottish journalist Tim Cornwell dies aged 59


A former regional journalist who battled mental health issues died at the age of 59 shortly after completing the job of editing his famous father’s letters.

Tim Cornwell, who worked for The Scotsman and the Hull Daily Mail during his career, was the son of spy novelist John Le Carré, considered one of Britain’s greatest post-war writers.

Tim had recently worked on A Private Spy, a collection of letters from his father, the book of which was due for publication in October.

He died suddenly on May 31 as he returned to London with his partner after visiting his daughter.

Tim, pictured, joined the Hull Daily Mail after college before he and his wife Alice moved to Washington DC, where she worked for a news agency and he worked as a freelancer

The family moved to Los Angeles in 1995, from where Tim filed reports for various UK publications, including The Scotsman, covering stories such as the OJ Simpson trial.

Eventually, in 2001, he was appointed deputy foreign editor of The Scotsman and he and Alice moved to Edinburgh.

He then became the paper’s arts correspondent and, although he left the staff in 2012, he remained a regular critic of the Edinburgh Festival.

Throughout his career, he suffered from periodic mental health issues which came to a head in 2005 when he suffered from depression and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

In his obituary published in The Scotsman, David Robinson wrote: “Although in his later years Tim struggled with the realities of bipolar life, he never let it define him.

“Editing his father’s letters seemed to help Tim find reconciliation. Although he still feared that the publication of the book would be a disaster, those who loved him thought the opposite: that the delicacy and empathy shown in his editing would be praised and that the whole process would instill in him a greater high self-esteem.

“The few people who have seen it – including his father’s agent, the publisher and his three sons – are unanimous in their praise.”

Tim is survived by his brothers Simon, Stephen, Nick and Adam, his partner Anna, his ex-wife Alice, his daughters Annie and Eliza and his grandson Noah who celebrated his first birthday yesterday.

David added: “Although too young to remember his grandfather, [he]will one day grow up to find that in 2022 he dedicated his one and only book to her.


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