Farewell to maeve Country mourns loss of a Literary national treasure
Published 30/12/2012 | 06:00
Maeve Binchy died on July 30, aged 72. The warmth of the tributes paid to the best-selling author reflected her status as a literary national treasure.
She died peacefully in hospital, with her husband Gordon Snell at her side.
To an earlier generation of readers, Maeve was a witty and irreverent columnist for the Irish Times.
She moved to the paper's London office in the 1970s. She made a point of filing her copy early so she could enjoy her famously long lunches.
She had a series of unsuitable boyfriends before meeting children's author Snell in London, and the pair were an inseparable and affectionate couple for over 40 years.
Maeve's gift was for storytelling. "Write as you would talk," was always her advice to aspiring writers. Not everyone talked like Maeve, though.
She became a sort of kindly aunt to a generation of Irish women writers, among them Marian Keyes, Patricia Scanlan and Cathy Kelly.
Her books – all 16 novels and over 40 short stories – sold over 40 million copies worldwide, and several were filmed.
Andrew Davies, who adapted Circle of Friends for the screen, remembered a meeting with Maeve at her home in Dalkey.
"She gave me lots of sharp and comic details that weren't in the book. About half past eleven she said 'Gordon and I usually have a bottle of champagne about this time in the morning, would you like to join us?' and that seemed like a very good idea," he said at the time of her death.
"Then we went out to lunch and had, if I remember rightly, some lovely sea bass and about three bottles of Chardonnay, and never stopped laughing the whole time until I was poured into a taxi for the flight back."
A Week in Winter, Maeve's last book, was published posthumously in November. It was an immediate bestseller and continues to top the fiction charts.