Skip to Content

'Brilliant, kind' Maeve Binchy

6 August 2012

Maeve Binchy, who died this week at the age of 72, was one of those rare authors who is loved by everyone. Her warm, readable novels showed her great story-telling talent, but it was her wonderful personality which marked her out from many other successful authors.

Binchy loved people and the book trade took her to their collective hearts, not just because she was a highly successful author who sold over 40 million books, with her work translated into more than 30 languages. She always had time for people, her readers in particular, and was loved through the trade because she was so nice to everyone and so stalwart in promoting her books.

Binchy initially worked as a teacher before becoming a journalist, columnist and later women's editor at The Irish Times. From her first novel, Light a Penny Candle, published in 1982, she had found her audience and they never deserted her.

Although she announced her retirement in 2000, she continued writing and her last novel Minding Frankie was published in 2010.

Ian Rankin said Binchy was a "a gregarious, larger than life, ebullient recorder of human foibles and wonderment".

Orion Fiction head Susan Lamb, who first met Binchy in the 1970s when Lamb was a publicist and Binchy was the London correspondent for the Irish Times, paid tribute to the author's "brilliant, kind personality—she never forgot anyone's name. She was a one-off… She was absolutely loved. People use platitudes all the time, but she was a genuinely generous, warm-hearted person, and that was reflected in her storytelling".

Novelist, Patricia Scanlan said Ms Binchy was extremely generous to aspiring writers, and would give them great encouragement and advice. She said: "The greatness about Maeve was that she had empathy, and any reader who read her understood perfectly where she was coming from because she touched the lives and the hearts of people".

Her longtime agent and friend Christine Green

Represents fiction and general non-fiction. Does not represent children's books, science fiction/fantasy, poetry or scripts.

Commission: (home 10%, overseas 20%). Works in conjunction with agencies in Europe and Scandinavia.

Submission Guidelines:

Send the first three chapters and a synopsis of the remainder, together with a short covering letter. You must enclose a stamped S.A.E. (If you are outside the UK, please use international postal orders). Does not accept submissions on disc, by email or fax. Submissions should be typed using double-spacing on one side of the paper only; please remember to number the pages.

No reading fee.

Founded 1984.

Association  of Authors' Agents

wrote movingly about Maeve Binchy in Bookbrunch last week:

"They came in every day, the letters and emails from her readers all over the world. The numbers are there for all to see: forty million-plus copies, thirty-odd languages. But the reality behind the statistics is that Maeve touched the hearts of readers everywhere. Her stories were positive, rather than romantic: often a woman might not get the man she loved, sometimes a marriage ended badly. But her characters always grew and learnt from their experiences. As she herself said: "I don't have ugly ducklings turning into swans in my stories. I have ugly ducklings turning into confident ducks."

Green wrote that, asked how she wanted to be remembered, Maeve Binchy said:

I'd like people to think I was a good friend and a reasonable story-teller and to know that thanks to all the great people, family and friends that I met, I was very, very happy when I was here.