Writer and teacher

Born: October 14, 1963;

Died: February 6, 2019

BEATRICE Colin, who has died aged 55, was a novelist, radio dramatist, senior lecturer in creative writing and a very dear friend and collaborator. An instinctive storyteller who worked across the genres of fiction, radio and film, she was also an inspirational and perceptive teacher. Her work was often set in a historical context – the glamorous early days of cinema in Weimar Germany, the building of the Eiffel Tower, the New York of jazz and prohibition. It was highly researched, beautifully plotted, hugely absorbing and richly written. She said of her work that it was a means of discovery – about the world, about history, about herself.

Born in London in 1963, Beatrice moved with her family to Lancashire and then to Glasgow. She attended Dumbarton Academy and Park School for Girls, leaving in 1981 when she set up the jazz-influenced band, The French Impressionists. From 1982 she was a student at Glasgow University and, while still there, she formed the musical duo, April Showers, with Jonathan Bernstein. Their single, Abandon Ship, was released on Chrysalis records and reached 144 in the singles charts.

After graduation, Beatrice started her own clothing design business while continuing to sing on the Glasgow music scene – both backing vocals and with her new band, Pale Fire.

In 1990 she began producing radio arts programmes and this marked the beginning of a new career in journalism. Initially writing freelance articles for the Scotland on Sunday, book reviews for The Herald and working as the theatre critic and children’s page editor for The List, she went on to be the editor of the Scotland on Sunday fashion pages and arts editor of The List. During this time, she began writing film and radio scripts as well as short stories, one of which was shortlisted for the Harper Collins short story competition.

In 1996 she married Ewan Morrison with whom she had two children, Theo in 1998 and Frances in 2001. During the late 90s she wrote her first novels, Nude, Untitled (shortlisted for the Saltire First Book Award) and Disappearing Act, as well as writing plays for Radio 4, including Maids of Orleans and Mercury, Sulphur and Salt. It was at this time that we were introduced, and we continued to work together in radio – and film – in fruitful and joyful collaboration for the next 20 years.

The family moved to the US in 2001, living in Brooklyn, from where Beatrice continued to write both fiction and radio drama, including The Weight of Water Precious Bane, King of Shadows and Mapping the Heart. She moved back to Glasgow in 2003, after which her marriage ended, and she started to teach creative writing. Over the next few years, she was working on her next novel, published in 2007 as The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite in the UK and under the title The Glimmer Palace in the US. It went on to be a critical and popular success and was chosen as one of the titles in Richard and Judy’s Book Club in 2009.

In 2008, Beatrice met the lecturer Paul Harkin, with whom she would spend the rest of her life. The couple married in 2016. Shortly after meeting, they did a road trip together round Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and New Mexico to research Beatrice’s next novel, The Songwriter. Around this time, she also wrote My Invisible Sister with Sara Pinto (later made into a film by Disney TV) and started another book for children, Pyrate’s Boy, which was published in 2013. Her next novel, To Capture What We Cannot Keep, was published in 2016.

Beatrice was writer-in-residence at Tramway between 2011 and 2012, where she launched and edited their digital Literary magazine, Algebra.

In 2012, she was appointed as lecturer in creative writing at the University of Strathclyde and was promoted to senior lecturer in 2016. Here, she was a cherished colleague and an inspiring and supportive mentor to her students. She was a constant champion of good writing, as well as a clear and direct critic of what she considered less than good. She was patient, enthusiastic and generous to her students and spurred them on to achieve their best work.

Throughout, Beatrice continued to write for radio including the dramas The Ice Wife, The True Story of Bonnie Parker, The Ferryman’s Apprentice, The Vital Spark: The Driver’s Seat and the short stories The Suffragette’s Party, Toad and Grey Evening.

She wrote an award-winning short film, The Hide, in 2016 after which she received funding to write the treatment for a feature film, The Ice Bride. Near the end of her life, she completed this treatment as well as an edit on her final novel, provisionally titled The Glass House.

Beatrice enjoyed walking, playing the piano, reading, cinema and history. She loved Europe, travel – spending memorable holidays in St Petersburg , Berlin, Tuscany and Sicily. She was passionate about food and wine, grew fruit and vegetables, was a creative cook and a generous host who loved parties. Her final party – fuelled by Negroni cocktails – took place on the 28th December 2018.

Beatrice was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2016 and lived fully and fearlessly for two and a half years with the disease. She died at the Prince and Princess of Wales Hospice in Glasgow.

Beatrice is survived by her husband, Paul, her children Theo and Frances, her step-son, Oscar, and by her mother, sister and brother.