David Kerr Cameron: award-winning author and Daily Telegraph sub-editor

Journalist and writer David Kerr Cameron has died in Luton, aged 74.

Although he spent most of his journalistic career in London, he never forgot the harsh way of farming life in his native Aberdeenshire and wrote three award-winning books on the subject.

When he was 14 and his headmaster suggested that he became a writer, the idea came as a blow to his self-esteem.

“It seemed such a namby-pamby thing to be when I contemplated the hard men of the farmtouns in Scotland’s north-east lowlands,” he was to recall later. He began his 45-year career as a journalist with a series of articles about rural life which he wrote for local newspapers while doing his National Service in the Royal Air Force.

After marrying in 1950, he worked on the Kirriemuir Herald weekly and the daily Press and Journal before the lure of working on a Fleet Street newspaper attracted him to London.

He became a sub-editor on The Daily Telegraph where he worked for 27 years until his retirement in 1993.

It was only when he turned 50, however, that he turned his hand to serious writing.

The Ballad and the Plough (1978), Willie Gavin, Crofter Man (1980), and The Cornkister Days were so redolent of the social history of north-east Scotland that they all won Scottish Arts Council awards. His only novel – A Kist of Sorrows (1987) – was also well-received.

The contrast all these books offered to the soulless machinations of agribusiness was not of itself, he realised, the reason why they were so popular. For all the hardships of the harsh life he painted, he appreciated it offered a sense of belonging and identity.

“The old closeness with a landscape, and even with the figures who walked through it largely unrecorded, has gone and left a vacuum,” he explained in a Scotsman interview in 1978.

“For all I know this is what I was looking for myself, down there in London.”

The English Fair (1997) and London’s Pleasures (2001) took up the theme of the transformation of country and town life south of the border and were also well reviewed.

He is survived by his wife Joyce.

Hamish Mackay

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