Maeve Binchy, Irish novelist & playwright, died at 72

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Dead, Maeve Binchy Snell on the 30th of July 2012.

She was an Irish novelist, playwright, short story writer, columnist, and speaker best known for her sympathetic and often humorous portrayal of small-town life in Ireland, her descriptive characters, her interest in human nature, and her often clever surprise endings.

Born in Dublin, Ireland on May 28, 1940, Maeve Binchy received a Bachelor of Arts degree from University College, Dublin in 1960.

She then worked for a short time as a teacher and news reporter, before focusing on writing novels.

She published her first novel, Light a Penny Candle, in Britain in the early 1980s.

Her other literary works include 1985’s Echoes, 1990’s Circle of Friends and 2008’s Heart and Soul.

In 1990, Binchy published one of her most popular novels, Circle of Friends, a story about a group of college friends in Ireland in the 1950s.

The book was adapted for a 1995 film of the same name, starring and Chris O’Donnell and Minnie Driver.

Later that decade, Binchy published Tara Road, which landed on the famed Oprah’s Book Club list and was also later adapted for a film, this time starring Andie MacDowell and Olivia Williams.

Binchy continued to write throughout the early 2000s, publishing Heart and Soul, a story about an empathetic doctor who opens a facility in an underserved area, in 2008.

In 2002, Binchy “suffered a health crisis related to a heart condition”, which inspired her to write Heart and Soul.

The book about (what Binchy terms) “a heart failure clinic” in Dublin and the people involved with it, reflects many of her own experiences and observations in the hospital.

Towards the end of her life, Binchy had the following message on her official website: “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.”

In the days after her death tributes were published from such writers as John Banville, Roddy Doyle, and Colm Tóibín.

Banville contrasted Binchy with Gore Vidal, who died the day after her, observing that Vidal “used to say that it was not enough for him to succeed, but others must fail.

Maeve wanted everyone to be a success.” Numerous tributes appeared in publications on both sides of the Atlantic, including The Guardian and CBC News.

Binchy announced in 2000 that she would not tour any more of her novels, but would instead be devoting her time to other activities and to her husband, Gordon Snell.

Five further novels were published before her death: Quentins (2002), Nights of Rain and Stars (2004), Whitethorn Woods (2006), Heart and Soul (2008), and Minding Frankie (2010).

Her final novel, A Week in Winter, was published posthumously in 2012.

In 2014 a collection of 36 unpublished short stories that she had written over a period of decades was published under the title Chestnut Street.

In September 2012, a new garden behind the Dalkey Library in County Dublin was dedicated in memory of Binchy.


 

 

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