AA Gill dead: Sunday Times columnist and ‘giant among journalists’ dies

Gill disclosed cancer diagnosis three weeks ago 

Heather Saul@heatheranne9
Saturday 10 December 2016 16:21
Writer AA Gill dies after short battle with cancer

AA Gill, the revered writer, fearsome food critic and provocative columnist for The Sunday Times for more than 20 years has died of cancer. He was 62.

Gill’s balance of acerbic wit and searching observations established him as one of the most distinguished British columnists.

Sunday Times editor Martin Ivens said Gill was “the heart and soul of the paper” and "a giant among journalists".

“His writing was dazzling and fearless, his intelligence was matched by compassion," he said in a statement to staff.

"Adrian was stoical about his illness, but the suddenness of his death has shocked us all.

”Characteristically he has had the last word, writing an outstanding article about coming to terms with his cancer in tomorrow's Sunday Times Magazine.”

Gill announced his diagnosis of “an embarrassment of cancer, the full English” in his Table Talk column just three weeks before his death.

He also detailed how he had chosen to leave private medical care and continue his treatment with the NHS because he did not want to die in “a trench in Harley Street”.

“What I always look for is the spark of human connection in everything, and that’s one of the reasons why I’ve always wanted to be in the NHS. That’s why I wanted to be here in Charing Cross Hospital, because I want the connection it brings,” he said.

Reflecting on his life, Gill told the paper he felt fulfilled by what he had achieved up until his diagnosis. “I realise I don’t have a bucket list; I don’t feel I’ve been cheated of anything. I’d like to have gone to Timbuktu, and there are places I will be sorry not to see again.”

Gill was married to the current Home Secretary Amber Rudd in 1990 when she was working as a financial journalist. They split five years later.

He then met his partner of 23 years, former Tatler editor-at-large Nicola Formby, who he proposed to shortly after his diagnosis. He would refer to her as 'The Blonde' in his reviews.

Celebratedly fierce, biting and funny in his prose, Gill was also severely dyslexic and dictated his copy to editors. A former alcoholic, he began his career as an artist, which would prove to be a fruitless venture, gave up drinking aged 30 and wrote his first piece for Tatler under a pseudonym from a detox clinic.

Relentlessly controversial, he was the subject of 62 press commission complaints in five years, including one by Clare Balding after he referred to her as a “dyke on a bike” in a typically caustic column for The Times.

Many of those paying tribute to Gill wrote “AA Gill is Away” in their eulogies, a nod to the footnote which would appear in the paper to denote the writer was travelling.

Gill is survived by Formby and his four children.

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