Helen Marwick: weekly columnist for Herald in US

Helen Marwick, who for more than 20 years wrote a weekly column for Glasgow’s The Herald about life in the US, has died at her home in Washington DC. She was 87.

Born in Glasgow, she won a drama scholarship to Yale University, and when Second World War broke out, joined the British Information Service in New York, and was soon employed by the British Security Coordination – involved in the British wartime propaganda operation alongside Roald Dahl, writing stories for placement in the US press.

She was then manager of the New York office of the Manila Times for nine years and began writing a column for The Herald’s then stablemate, The Bulletin, and on moving to Washington in 1966 she began a weekly Washington letter for The Herald with perceptive and witty insights into life in the US capital.

She continued to write the column until 1994, and contributed to The Herald after that but dropped the regular column when she turned to writing novels.

Writes Anne Simpson: “Helen was the best sort of Scot abroad. As a journalist she was a consummate professional, never missing a deadline with her racy prose and able to deliver pertinent commentary on a breaking story at short notice.

“Her forte lay in winkling out the delicious incidentals behind big events, from Watergate to sensational society murders.

“With the unstinting encouragement of her husband, the medical journalist, Charles Marwick, their charming house in Georgetown often seemed like Scotland’s unofficial Washington embassy, but, long before networking became a recognised social skill in Britain, Helen knew the merit of making friend and influencing people. She was generously and uninhibitedly American in that respect.”

Hamish Mackay

Hamish Mackay

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