By ROBERT BARR
Bestselling Irish author Maeve Binchy, one of Ireland’s most popular writers who sold more than 40 million books worldwide, died in Dublin after a brief illness, Irish media and national leaders said. She was 72 years old.
She was best known for her depictions of human relationships and their crises in such books as “Circle of Friends” and “Tara Road,” based mainly in the small towns of Ireland but also in London.
The Irish Times, her former employer, told The Associated Press it had spoken to Binchy’s family and said the acclaimed author had died in a Dublin hospital on Monday with her husband, Gordon Snell, by her side.
Binchy wrote 16 novels, four collections of short stories, a play and a novella. Her work landed her on The New York Times’ bestseller list and in Oprah’s Book Club.
In recent years she continued to write despite being slowed down by arthritis and a heart ailment.
Describing her childhood in Dalkey in County Dublin, Binchy wrote on her official website that she was “full of enthusiasms, mad fantasies, desperate urges to be famous and anxious to be a saint. “
After graduating from University College Dublin, Binchy worked as a teacher before becoming a journalist, columnist and editor at the Irish Times, one of the country’s leading newspapers.
She later moved to England, where she became the newspaper’s London editor in the early 1970s.
Her first novel, “Light a Penny Candle,” was published in 1982 _ after being rejected by five publishers _ and became a bestseller.
That book led to an invitation to appear on a French TV program, “a terrifying serious program about books,” she recalled two years ago in an interview with Donald O’Donoghue of broadcaster RTE.
She had announced in her column in 2000 that “Scarlet Feather” would be her last novel, prompting more than 800 people to write in protest to The Irish Times.
A new novel, “Quentins,” appeared in 2002.
In the same year, she suffered a health crisis related to a heart condition, and doctors warned that it would restrict her activity. Her time in hospital waiting rooms, absorbing the conversations of patients, inspired another novel, “Heart and Soul,” in 2009.
Binchy’s novel “Minding Frankie” was published in 2010, the same year she received a lifetime achievement honor from the Irish Book Awards. Her latest novel, “A Week in Winter,” is to be published later this year.
In an interview two years ago, Binchy said she preferred to deal with issues which could be argued from either side.
The best advice, she added, comes from the “Coronation Street,” a British soap opera: “Oh, get over yourself.”
Binchy is survived by her husband, her brother, William, and her sister, Joan.
She is to be cremated Friday at a private service following a funeral Mass at the Catholic Church of the Assumption in her native Dublin district of Dalkey.