Industry mourns loss of a 'natural storyteller'

Wed, Aug 1, 2012, 01:00

BROADCASTER AND journalist Henry Kelly said that “everything said about Maeve is true. She was absolutely stunning. She wasn’t just a great colleague, she was spiritually and morally such a generous woman.

“I joined The Irish Times about a year, I think, after Maeve,” said Kelly, who remembered ‘wonderful lunches” in the Harp restaurant on O’Connell Bridge “where I had gone along as the junior boy”.

“She was just such a lovely member of the human race, as is Gordon, her husband. I have known them both for 40 years. I can’t tell how much fun it was to be with both of them,” said Kelly, who now presents a radio show in Britain.

He was letters editor of The Irish Times when Binchy wrote her legendary piece on Princess Anne’s wedding: “When the mail delivery came in there were only three or four letters.

“I expressed surprise, thinking there should have been more, particularly after Maeve’s piece. The mailman said, ‘Oh, you want the wedding letters’ and went out and came back in with an old mailbag that was full to the brim.”

Meanwhile, Binchy’s publisher, Random House described her as “a unique storyteller”. Chairman and chief executive, Gail Rebuck said: “ wrote from the heart with an unrivalled warmth and passion.

“As well as producing over 30 years of bestsellers, she also devoted time to write two Quick Reads charity books for emergent readers, and enthusiastically promoted a love of reading.

“Maeve was one of the warmest and nicest authors. It was a privilege to know her and she will be missed by the whole publishing industry,” Ms Rebuck said.

Novelist Jilly Cooper said Binchy was “a natural storyteller”.

“She was a darling – I’m very, very sad,” she told Radio 4’s Today programme. “She was so kind and funny and captivating, and was a brilliant writer.”

Other authors have paid tribute on Twitter, with Ian Rankin tweeting: “Maeve Binchy was a gregarious, larger than life, ebullient recorder of human foibles and wonderment”.

Meanwhile, author and former politician Jeffrey Archer said of her: “She had that great gift of making you feel life was worth living. A very, very special person.”