Irish author Maeve Binchy dies aged 72

Maeve Binchy in 2007. Photo / Supplied
Maeve Binchy in 2007. Photo / Supplied

The best-selling Irish author Maeve Binchy has died at the age of 72 after a short illness.

Her husband, writer Gordon Snell, was with her when she died peacefully in hospital on Monday.

Binchy, one of Ireland's most popular novelists, sold more than 40 million books worldwide. Her works have been translated into 37 languages and several, including Circle Of Friends, The Lilac Bus and Tara Road, have been adapted for the screen.

Binchy, who was born in Dalkey, studied at University College Dublin before starting her career as a teacher. She became a journalist and columnist, later moving to England to become London editor of The Irish Times.

Her popular early collections of humorous short stories were based in London and Dublin.

Binchy's novels touched on poignant issues such as parent-child relationships and the illusion of love.

Her first novel, Light A Penny Candle, was published in 1982 and became a bestseller.

Binchy, who was considered a true Irish storyteller, made Britain's top 10 most popular writers and the New York Times' Bestseller List.

She appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 1999 and Tara Road was also chosen in Oprah's Book Club.

Binchy announced her retirement in 2000 but continued writing. Her last novel, Minding Frankie, was published in 2010 - the same year she received a lifetime achievement award from the Irish Book Awards.

In a personal message on her website when Minding Frankie was released in the United States she thanked fans who had said they'd enjoyed it.

"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," she wrote.

In a 2001 interview with the BBC, Binchy said her secret was to write the way she spoke. "You're much more believable if you talk in your own voice," she said.

Irish politicians have paid tribute to Binchy, who has been described as inspirational.

Meath East TD Regina Doherty took to social network site Twitter, saying: "Godspeed Maeve Binchy RIP lovely warm gentle lady brought much joy through all her work."

- AAP

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