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The Life And Loves Of A She-Devil author Fay Weldon dies aged 91

The novelist, playwright and screenwriter’s body of work includes more than 30 novels.

Naomi Clarke
Wednesday 04 January 2023 16:35 GMT
Writer Fay Weldon has died at the age of 91 (Fiona Hanson/PA)
Writer Fay Weldon has died at the age of 91 (Fiona Hanson/PA) (PA Archive)

Author Fay Weldon, known for works including The Life And Loves Of A She-Devil and Praxis, has died aged 91.

The novelist, playwright and screenwriter’s body of work includes more than 30 novels – as well as short stories and plays written for television, radio and the stage.

A family statement said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Fay Weldon (CBE), author, essayist and playwright. She died peacefully this morning January 4, 2023.”

The writer previously told her readers in a statement posted on her website that she had been admitted to hospital with a broken bone in her back and then with a stroke.

Born in Britain in September 1931, she was brought up in New Zealand and returned to the UK as a child.

She went on to read economics and psychology at the University of St Andrews in Scotland and later received an honorary doctorate from the institution in 1990.

Weldon worked briefly for the Foreign Office in London and as a journalist before moving to work as an advertising copywriter.

She left this career to focus on her writing and published her first novel, The Fat Woman’s Joke, in 1967.

One of her best known works, 1983’s The Life And Loves Of A She-Devil, which was later adapted into a TV series and film, followed a woman who goes to great lengths to take revenge on her adulterous husband.

Much of her fiction explores issues surrounding women’s relationships with men, children, parents and each other, including the novels Down Among The Women (1971) and Female Friends (1974).

Her 1978 novel Praxis was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction and she later chaired the judges’ panel for the prestigious award in 1983.

A post on the Booker Prizes Twitter account said they were “saddened” to hear the news as they recalled how she had “delivered one of the most memorable speeches in Booker history” during her time as a judge for the award.

Alongside her prolific novel career, she also wrote children’s books, non-fiction books and newspaper articles.

She was also one of the writers on the popular drama series Upstairs, Downstairs which ran from 1971 to 1975, receiving an award from the Writers Guild of America for the show’s first episode.

She published a memoir called Auto Da Fay in 2002 when she was 70.

Weldon was also a professor of creative writing at Bath Spa University, retiring in 2021.

After spending nine years teaching at the institution she was awarded Emeritus Professor status in recognition of her dedication to the university.

She was made a CBE for her services to literature in the New Year Honours list in 2001.

Leading literary figures were among those who paid tribute to Weldon following the news, including Chocolat author Joanne Harris, who tweeted: “RIP Fay Weldon: what a loss, and what a remarkable woman.”

The Rev Richard Coles also revealed he took her Holy Communion as he remembered the late author, writing on Twitter: “So sorry to see news of the death of #FayWeldon.

“I started out as an admirer of her fiction and I ended up taking her Holy Communion. She was amazing. May she rest in peace.”

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