Maeve Binchy, one of Ireland’s best-loved writers, has died after a short illness, aged 72.
The books of Binchy, a former journalist, sold 40 million copies and were translated into 30 languages. Her novels included Circle of Friends, which was adapted into a 1995 film starring Chris O’Donnell and Minnie Driver.
Her novels and short stories focused on the details of Irish life and the friction between tradition and modernity.
She spoke last month at the Dalkey Book Festival in the suburb of Dublin, where she lived with her husband, Gordon Snell. She read from her most recent short story, which she told the audience would probably be her last.
She initially worked as a teacher before becoming a journalist, columnist and later women’s editor at the Irish Times.
She then moved to London, where she became London editor.
Her first collections of short stories were set in London and Dublin and featured sharp and poignant observations of characters of those cities.
Her first novel, Light a Penny Candle, was published in 1982 and became a bestseller. It was set during and after the second world war and it featured the elements that typified her later work: life in small-town Ireland, family relationships, humour, and gripping plots.
Although she announced her retirement in 2000, she continued writing and her last novel, Minding Frankie, was published in 2010.
On her website she wrote recently: “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.”
Meath East TD Regina Doherty posted a tribute to Binchy on Twitter: “Godspeed Maeve Binchy RIP lovely warm gentle lady brought much joy through all her work.”
The Scottish writer Ian Rankin tweeted: “She had time for everybody. Perhaps because her stories came from all of us and for all of us.”