Best-selling Irish author Maeve Binchy has died aged 72 after a short illness.
Binchy, born in Dalkey, Co Dublin, has, throughout her career, sold more than 40 million books. Her novels, often set in Ireland have been translated into a remarkable 37 languages and include ‘Tara Road’ and ‘Circle of Friends’, both of which were adapted for screen.
Binchy trained as a teacher before becoming a journalist, writing her first novel, ‘Light a Penny Candle’ (1982) whilst working at The Irish Times.
Many other authors have paid tribute to Binchy, with Ian Rankin tweeting: “Maeve Binchy was a gregarious, larger than life, ebullient recorder of human foibles and wonderment.”
Marian Keyes wrote: “I’m so so sad to hear that Maeve Binchy has died. She was so full of life, so funny, so interested in people, so kind and so good to all of us writers, who came after her.’ She said the author was renowned for her generosity, warm heartedness and support of others, even compiling a guide for budding novelists: ‘The most important thing to realise is that everyone is capable of telling a story….It doesn’t matter where we were born or how we grew up’.
Irish President Michael Higgins has said he is “deeply saddened” by Binchy’s death, praising her for being an ‘outstanding novelist, short story writer and columnist who engaged millions of people all around the world with her fluent and accessible style’.
In 2000 Binchy was ranked third in the World Book Day poll of the nation’s favourite authors – ahead of national treasures, Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.
In 2001 Binchy won the WHSmith Book Award for fiction saying in an interview with the BBC that her secret was to write in speaking voice: ‘You don’t wear all your jewellery at once’, she said ‘You’re much more believable if you talk in your own voice.”
She published a personal message on her website in 2010 after having won a lifetime achievement award thanking her fans around the world: “My health isn’t so good these days and I can’t travel around to meet people the way I used to, but I’m always delighted to hear from readers, even if it takes me a while to reply.”