Monday 23 September 2019

Penny Vincenzi’s daughters pay tribute as author dies aged 78

The novelist, who wrote 17 novels and two collections of stories, died on Sunday.

Novelist Penny Vincenzi has died aged 78 (Peter Stone/REX/Shutterstock/PA)
Novelist Penny Vincenzi has died aged 78 (Peter Stone/REX/Shutterstock/PA)

By Lucy Mapstone, Press Association Deputy Entertainment Editor

The daughters of British novelist Penny Vincenzi have paid tribute to their “endlessly positive and resilient” mother, who has died aged 78.

Vincenzi, whose career as an author spanned nearly three decades, died on Sunday.

Her daughters Polly Harding, Sophie Cornish, Emily Gunnis and Claudia Vincenzi said she was “still galloping through her new novel” until as recently as last week, and that she “fulfilled her ambitions” to die at her typewriter.

They said they were “touched” at the many tributes to their mother, adding: “To us she was a mother first. We knew her kindness, care and constancy.

Penny Vincenzi

“She often said that the most important thing a mother can do for her children is to be in their corner, and she was, every day, every time.

“She encouraged us in everything we did and sincerely believed that we were the most talented girls in the world.”

They praised her marriage and her “deep love, admiration and loyalty” to their late father Paul, and said their mother “was as beautiful as she was stylish, with an insatiable appetite for every imaginable aspect of life”.

“She was endlessly positive and resilient but perhaps would most want to be remembered as the extraordinary role model that she was.

“A true trailblazer, her ambition matched her talent, enabling her to break down barriers and show others behind her – especially her daughters – what it was possible to achieve, professionally and personally.”

They said that, although she was met with health challenges in her later years, she “was adamant to remain, in her own words, ‘cheerful and positive, someone the grandchildren remembered as happy and fun to be around.’”

Vincenzi’s agent Clare Alexander said: “She had such a generous gift of friendship, quite blind to whether someone was the boss or just making her a cup of tea. And that is why so many people in publishing will be devastated by her loss.

“For myself, I will miss her every day.”

Writer Sophie Kinsella said that Vincenzi was “the most entertaining of friends, always full of ideas and views and opinions, always ready to laugh at life’s absurdities”.

She added: “She was like one of her own novels: once you were in her company you didn’t want to say goodbye. I will really miss her.”

Vincenzi’s first job was as a librarian at Harrods.

She then worked at the Daily Mirror as a secretary before going into journalism, writing for publications including The Times, the Daily Mail, Vogue and Cosmopolitan.

Her first novel was Old Sins, published in 1989, and she went on to write a further 16 novels, including best-sellers Sheer Abandon, The Best of Times, The Decision and An Absolute Scandal.

She sold more than seven million copies of her works, which also include two collections of stories, all over the world.

Her latest novel A Question of Trust was published last year, and will be released in paperback this summer.

Her husband of nearly 50 years, Paul Robert Vincenzi, died in 2009 from a brain tumour.

Penny Vincenzi

In 2013, she nearly died after being diagnosed with a rare blood disorder called cryoglobulinemia.

Vincenzi battled her way through her illness and put her efforts into her 2014 novel A Perfect Heritage, about an aristocratic family who have to deal with their once-iconic product falling out of favour due to the changes in the cosmetic industry.

She told The Telegraph in 2014 that the book had been “a complete life-saver” for her, because she had started writing it before she got ill and she was determined to stick to the deadline.

She told the newspaper that, when writing books, she never had “the faintest idea what is going to happen, ever”.

“I never have any idea what is going to happen at the end, I truly don’t, which is why they are so long.”

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