Bessie Grieve, Orcadian columnist; born June 28, 1923, died May 19, 1996.

BESSIE Grieve, known to thousands of Orcadians at home and abroad for her regular weekly columns - first in the Orkney Herald and then The Orcadian - has died at her birthplace, Ostoft, Shapinsay.

Born into a farming family, she was christened Jemima Bessie Skea, attended Shapinsay School, and from the age of nine started writing ``bits and pieces'' of poetry and prose.

Her work was first published in 1958 by the Orkney Herald under the apt heading Countrywoman. She offered a personal perspective on life in contemporary Orkney and was particularly interested in the natural history of the islands. The late George Mackay Brown and Ernest Marwick, writer and folklorist, had both offered her early encouragement.

Her contributions later appeared in The Orcadian for whom she started writing in 1961 after the Orkney Herald ceased publication. Countrywoman's regular column appeared in The Orcadian from that time until this week's final piece, published as a tribute to the woman whose descriptions of Orkney life were eagerly awaited by readers and exiled Orcadians throughout the world.

Bessie Grieve continued to write her pieces even when she stayed for two periods with her son Leonard in Perth, Western Australia, after the death of her husband, Jim. Bessie and he had met and married in Shapinsay during the Second World War where he served with the coastal battery at Saltness.

When not busy housekeeping and bringing up her children - Kathleen, Donnie, and Leonard - Bessie Grieve had a keen eye for nature, recording the year's changes in her diary as well as making time for her beloved cats whose antics over the years amused many readers.

In the 1960s both Bessie and her husband studied at night school, Bessie taking Higher English. An enthusiastic member of the Orkney Field Club, she later managed to visit many of Orkney's remoter areas, some of which are described in her book Island Journeys, A Countrywoman's Travels, published in 1993 by the Orkney Press. Her other published works are A Countrywoman's Calendar, 1962; Waves and Tangles, 1964; and A Countrywoman's Diary, 1983.

A keen photographer in her later years, Bessie Grieve will be best remembered for her sharply honed, discerning, lyrical writing.