LEADING scholar Tom Devine has become the first Scottish historian to receive a knighthood in the Queen's Birthday Honours.

Professor Devine, who is the author of dozens of books and academic papers, was awarded the accolade in the 2014 list published today.

The 68-year-old has enjoyed a career spanning 49 years and will step down from his role as director of the Scottish Centre for Diaspora Studies at ­Edinburgh University imminently.

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He thanked his family for their support as they spoke of their delight and pride at the news of his accolade.

He said: "This recognition wouldn't have been possible without the collective support, over the many years of my career, of colleagues, students, both graduate and undergraduate, and, above all of Catherine, our children and grandchildren. I thank them all most warmly."

In an interview in The Herald ­Magazine today, Professor Devine reveals he is losing the sight in his left eye and has undergone several operations to treat it, but without success.

Professor Devine, who was born and raised in Motherwell, North Lanarkshire, has published three dozen books focusing on aspects of Scottish history and related subjects including the best-selling The Scottish Nation in 1999.

He is receiving the knighthood for services to the study of Scottish history.

His family responded to the honour by saying it was "very well deserved".

His wife Catherine and children ­Elizabeth, Noreen, Michael and ­Kathryna said: "We are all delighted and proud that this honour has been bestowed on him, especially since we understand that this is the first time an academic historian of Scotland has been knighted.

"Some awards in the honours system have been controversial. But who can deny that this particular accolade is so very well deserved?"

They added: "His many influential publications, remarkable skills as a communicator and enthusiastic commitment to take scholarship to the general public have helped so many to understand our nation's modern history for the first time - all that is indeed honourable service by any standards."

Among the other well-known figures receiving honours are actors Daniel-Day-Lewis, Dame Maggie Smith and Angelina Jolie, and Edinburgh Fringe Festival chief executive Kath Mainland.