SCOTLAND'S grand old lady of literature, Naomi Mitchison, has died at her home in Carradale, Kintyre, following a long illness. She was 101.

As well as being hailed as the leading Scottish female novelist of the past century, she was a farmer, honorary mother of a Botswana tribe, a former county councillor, a former parliamentary candidate, and a champion of women's rights.

The wife of a Labour peer, and a mother of seven and grandmother of 19, her writing career of more than 50 years produced around 70 books.

A socialist, she belonged to the intellectual aristocracy. She had a Victorian birth, an Edwardian upbringing, and was still writing after her 90th year.

One of her five surviving children, Mrs Val Arnold-Forster, at the family home in Carradale, said: ''She died in the drawing room facing Carradale Bay on a day which was spectacularly beautiful here.

''She had a long, interesting life that spanned a whole range of interests and a whole galaxy of people.

''Above all, her main love was writing books. She believed The Corn King and the Spring Queen was her best.''

Scottish Arts Council chairman, Mr Magnus Linklater, described her as a ground-breaker, a feminist, and a radical thinker. ''Naomi Mitchison loved people. She had a very turbulent and passionate life. She will be remembered as much for her forthright statements on social mores as anything else.

''She was a great figure who will be sorely missed.''

SNP spokesman Paul Scott, president of the Saltire Society of which she was an honorary member, described her as the leading Scottish women writer of the century and said Scotland would be a poorer place without her. ''She was a very alert and splendid character ... full of intellectual curiosity. Her novel, the Bull Calves, was undoubtedly one of the best Scottish novels of the century.''

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