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NUJ life member Maeve Binchy dies aged 72

Maeve Binchy

Maeve Binchy  -  © Photo: Liam White

7 August 2012

The Irish novelist and journalist Maeve Binchy, who has died aged 72 in Dublin after a short illness, was a proud life member of the NUJ.

She joined the union when she first began working with the Irish Times in the 1960s and maintained a keen interest in the NUJ and journalism throughout a career that would see her sell more than 40 million copies of her novels.

She is survived by her husband Gordon Snell, a writer who is also a life member of the NUJ.

Maeve's journalism, both as a reporter and columnist, was enlivened by the same warmth and fascination with the human condition which delighted more than 40 million people across the world who read her novels in 37 languages.

Originally a history and classics teacher, she took great joy in the success of young people. Asked what her earliest political thought was, Maeve replied:

"That it is grossly unfair for what we called 'The Poor' not to get a proper education and proper health service. That is still my main political thought."

Irish President Michael D Higgins said he was "deeply saddened" by Binchy's death.

"She was an outstanding novelist, short story writer and columnist who engaged millions of people all around the world with her fluent and accessible style,"

On behalf of Maeve's 34,000 colleagues in the NUJ, the union's general secretary MIchelle Stanistreet said:

"Maeve was very proud of her NUJ life membership and we were so proud of her continued interest in her union and all its members.
"She will be remembered across the world for her novels, but she will have a special place in the memories of all our members who knew her. Fame and success lay lightly on her. She retained a generosity of spirit and a keen and gentle interest in everyone she met that will endure for us all.
"The deepest sympathy of NUJ colleagues goes to Maeve's husband Gordon in his great loss."

Just three months ago and despite health difficulties, Maeve wrote a piece for The Journalist explaining why the NUJ was important to her

Gerry Curran, chair of the NUJ Irish Executive Council said the union:

"... would be forever grateful for the loyalty and support of Maeve, who was a legend in her lifetime, a beloved writer and a friend to a generation of NUJ members. Her death is a great loss".

Séamus Dooley, NUJ Irish secretary, said:

"Maeve was a woman of rare charm, warmth and generosity of spirit. Hundreds of journalists have reason to be grateful for her guidance and encouragement. She was always available to young writers and at heart remained a teacher. Maeve loved people and her unique insight into human nature shone through her journalism and later her novels. She will be missed for her sense of fun, her humour and for the grace and style which were her hallmark."

Tags: maeve binchy, novellist, books, newspapers, Irish Times