Anne Simpson (Annie to her many friends, colleagues and relatives) was an exceptional journalist whose work, always finessed, always polished and true, adorned this newspaper for almost 40 years.

She was a careful, even fastidious, writer, though she could send copy against the clock with the best of them. She was a very stylish woman: stylish in her persona, stylish in her journalism and stylish in her zestful appreciation of the better things in life, which included not just fine clothes and fine creative art but love and friendship; although she was essentially a private person, she had many friends.

She also brought a distinct dash of the exotic into some pretty drab environments. Scottish newspaper offices are not always the most glamorous of places. Wherever she was, wherever she worked, Annie brought with her a touch of class and an aura of elegance.

Annie was born in Dublin, moving to Leeds in Yorkshire with her family when she was very young. She attended St Gemma's Primary School in Leeds, and then St Joseph's College at Bradford. She was offered places at various universities but was so keen on a career in journalism that she started work on the Yorkshire Post as soon as she left school.

She arrived in Glasgow in 1975 when The Glasgow Herald was somewhat in the doldrums; it was a time when The Scotsman was making the running in Scotland. She had been persuaded to come to Scotland by Iain Lindsay Smith, freshly appointed as editor of The Glasgow Herald with the specific challenge of reviving the paper and putting The Scotsman in its place. They had worked together on the Yorkshire Post, where Annie had made her name as a feature writer, but she had also learned the hard way, as a reporter.

Later she would reminisce about phoning over news copy, late at night, in challenging circumstances: "Somehow it always seemed to be dark and rainy. And when you did find a phone, wind would be whistling through the smashed panes – and the phone box usually smelt of urine." But for all her experience of the gritty side of reporting, she would recall later that she was apprehensive about coming to Glasgow.

She expected that Glasgow would be much tougher than Yorkshire; she had heard the stories about this raucous and wild city, and its even more raucous and wild journalists. She arrived as women's editor and on her first day asked if there was any copy in hand. She was directed to a desk and found in it two articles: one called Collecting Old Spoons and the other headed Ornamental Things To Do With Autumn Leaves. Maybe Glasgow was a little more douce than she had been led to expect.

She soon turned the women's section of The Glasgow Herald into something much more vibrant, even cutting edge; and she herself wrote with sparkle and authority, particularly about fashion, though she had a very wide range. She soon found an enormous affinity with Glasgow; later she was to write a notable and appropriately stylish essay on "Glasgow style".

As The Glasgow Herald became more expansive and less parochial she was sent on assignments around the world. She had an exceptional eye for colourful detail and her reports were very polished; there was never a hint of the occasionally stressful circumstances in which she had to file copy. She had assignments on several continents.

She also made The Glasgow Herald a leading exponent of serious fashion journalism. She won various awards for her writing, including British Fashion Writer of the Year.

She also used the women's pages to promote feminist causes; not brashly, but in a considered and intelligent way that gained notice and respect in perhaps unlikely quarters. An accolade which particularly pleased her was a special award from the 300 Group, which campaigned for more women MPs.

She had many friends and relatives in Ireland, and she frequently reported from Dublin with much insight and authority. She also maintained a holiday cottage in Connemara.

In 1990 she wrote her only book, Blooming Dublin, a celebration of all that city's moods and contradictions, which was published by Mainstream in 1991, to coincide with Dublin's year as European City of Culture.

She was not altogether happy with it; always a perfectionist, she was ever a severe critic of her own writing. But it was, as you would expect, beautifully written, and in its way it was a brave book; she did not flinch from confronting Dublin's faults and tensions, as well as celebrating its "intoxicating devilment".

All this developed as she worked for a long succession of editors. Lindsay Smith had succeeded in reviving The Glasgow Herald, to an extent; there followed a rather passive editorship, that of Alan Jenkins, and then a more exciting but brief period when the paper was led by the hyper-dynamic Charles Wilson, who went on to edit the London Times. And then, early in 1981, the deputy editor of The Scotsman, Arnold Kemp, headed west to become the latest editor of The Glasgow Herald.

Arnold's arrival was a major moment in Annie's life. Not only did he quickly take the paper to new heights; he also fell in love with Annie, and she fell in love with him. To put it like that is not coy; it is simply what happened.

Arnold divorced his wife Sandra, and then he and Annie commenced on a partnership which made them both enormously happy for almost 20 years, until Arnold died, tragically young, in Connemara in September 2002. He had left the paper in 1994 but if anything his departure seemed to strengthen their already very strong relationship.

She worked for another six editors, through the more taxing times towards the end of the century, and into the yet more taxing new millennium.

Annie excelled in many roles on the paper she adored: she was a duty editor, a columnist, a writer of features and of course she still wrote with immense perception on fashion and style, as well as, latterly, contributing a radio column.

From the late 1990s she had suffered periods of very serious illness, which she bore with stoicism and great dignity. It was only in the last few weeks that the ravages of cancer finally brought her enormously distinguished writing career to an end.

She is survived by her three sisters, Stephanie, Bridget and Claire, with whom she was very close.

She was constantly gracious, not least in her capacity for friendship and love. She will be terribly missed.

She died at the Marie Curie Hospice, Stobhill, early on Friday morning.