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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Jessica Murray

‘A great inspiration’: tributes to journalist Ian Jack after death aged 77

Ian Jack wrote for the Guardian and was editor of Granta and the Independent on Sunday.
Ian Jack wrote for the Guardian and was editor of Granta and the Independent on Sunday. Photograph: Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert/The Guardian

Further tributes have been paid to Ian Jack, the Guardian columnist and former editor of Granta and the Independent on Sunday who died on Friday at the age of 77.

In his final piece for the Guardian, published last week, he reminisced on his memories of the BBC, which he described as “one of the world’s great cultural projects”, to mark its centenary.

The broadcaster Jeremy Vine said: “What a honour for the BBC to be chosen by Ian Jack as the very last subject he wrote about.”

Fintan O’Toole, a columnist at the Irish Times, said Jack was “a great inspiration”. “He wrote with scrupulous attention to detail, a vivid immediacy and elegant, slightly wistful, sense of time and change,” he said.

The Indian American journalist and author Basharat Peer said Jack was “a great editor and writer and a kind man”, adding “Granta meant a lot more to my generation of writers in South Asia than any American literary magazine. Ian kept the Granta flag flying high throughout his years as the editor.”

In a statement on Twitter, Granta magazine said: “We are deeply sorry to hear of the death of Ian Jack, who served for many years as Granta’s editor. He was an excellent colleague, and will be sorely missed.”

The British Indian journalist and author Mihir Bose said Jack was “the greatest journalist of his generation”. “It was a privilege to work with him in the Sunday Times and write for him for the Independent. A wonderful human being,” he said.

Katharine Viner, the editor-in-chief of the Guardian, said Jack “was an incredible reporter, full of curiosity and observational skill, and he was also a wonderful writer. Our readers loved him; there was no one like him”.

Jack was born in Lancashire but moved to North Queensferry in Fife with his Scottish parents at the age of seven.

He started as a trainee journalist at the Glasgow Herald in 1965, before moving to London in 1970 to join the Sunday Times and then joining the team that created the Independent on Sunday, which he edited from 1991 to 1995. He had been a Guardian columnist for the past 15 years.

He won a number of accolades throughout his career, including reporter of the year at the British Press awards in 1988 and editor of the year at Newspaper Industry awards in 1993.

Matthew O’Toole, the leader of the opposition in Northern Ireland, said: “Ian Jack was one of my absolute favourites. A beautiful and gifted prose writer, chronicler of Scotland, Britain, nostalgia, industry, culture.

“He offered a way into understanding worlds next to mine but different.”

Guardian readers have also paid tribute. “I haven’t missed reading one of Ian Jack’s pieces in the Guardian or LRB [London Review of Books] in years. Will indelibly be remembered as a great editor of Granta. Farewell Ian,” read one reader comment.

Another said: “You could always rely on well considered, well written articles from Ian. His sense of decency and humanity always seemed evident. The article mentions his nostalgia, which is fair enough, but his progressive attitude to politics and society were always what struck me.”

“Back in the day when Ian’s columns were weekly on a Saturday, the mornings when I opened the paper to see the line ‘Ian Jack is away’ were always a disappointment,” another reader wrote. “A great loss.”

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