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Author Maeve Binchy dies aged 72

media captionAuthor Maeve Binchy dies aged 72

Best-selling Irish author Maeve Binchy has died aged 72 after a short illness.

Binchy, born in Dalkey, Co Dublin, has sold more than 40 million books. Her works were often set in Ireland and have been translated into 37 languages.

They include The Lilac Bus as well as Tara Road and Circle of Friends, which were both adapted for screen.

Binchy trained as a teacher before moving into journalism and writing, publishing her first novel - Light a Penny Candle - in 1982.

She had written the novel in her spare time from her day job as a journalist at The Irish Times.

Fellow novelist Jilly Cooper paid tribute, saying Binchy was "a natural storyteller".

"She was a darling - I'm very, very sad," she told Radio 4's Today programme.

"She was so kind and funny and captivating, and was a brilliant writer."

Other authors have paid tribute on Twitter, 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.

media captionNovelist Jilly Cooper pays tribute to Maeve Binchy

"She was a beautiful generous person and a beautiful generous writer."

Cathy Kelly tweeted : "The world is truly a darker place without the golden light of lovely Maeve Binchy. We'll all miss her genius."

Irish President Michael D Higgins said he was "deeply saddened" by Binchy's death.

"She was an outstanding novelist, short story writer and columnist who engaged millions of people all around the world with her fluent and accessible style," he said.

"She was a great storyteller and we enjoyed her capacity to engage, entertain and surprise us."

BBC Dublin correspondent Ruth McDonald said Binchy's warm, witty, perceptive stories were read and enjoyed around the world.

She said the author was renowned for her generosity and support of others, writing in a guide for aspiring writers: "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."

In a 2001 interview with the BBC, after she had won the WHSmith Book Award for fiction, Binchy described the five rejections she received for her first novel as "a slap in the face".

image captionBinchy had sold more than 40 million books worldwide

She said she was glad she persevered and sent the book to a sixth publisher.

"It's like if you don't go to a dance you can never be rejected but you'll never get to dance either," she said.

The author said that her secret was to write the way she spoke.

"I don't say I was 'proceeding down a thoroughfare', I say I 'walked down the road'. I don't say I 'passed a hallowed institute of learning', I say I 'passed a school'.

"You don't wear all your jewellery at once," she went on. "You're much more believable if you talk in your own voice."

In 2000 Binchy was ranked third in the World Book Day poll of favourite authors - ahead of Jane Austen and Charles Dickens.

The writer received a lifetime achievement award from the Irish Book Awards in 2010, the same year her last novel, Minding Frankie, was published.

She published a personal message on her website thanking fans who had praised the work.

"My health isn't so good these days and I can't travel around to meet people the way I used to," she wrote.

"But I'm always delighted to hear from readers, even if it takes me a while to reply."

Binchy is survived by her husband, the writer Gordon Snell.

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