Maeve Binchy Biography

Author, Journalist(1940–2012)
Maeve Binchy was the author of various literary works, including 16 novels. Her most popular books include Light a Penny Candle, Echoes, Circle of Friends and Tara Road.

Synopsis

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. Throughout her long career, Binchy authored 16 novels, some of which were international bestsellers, and most of which focused on women and Irish culture. Binchy died at a Dublin hospital on July 30, 2012, following a short illness.

Early Life

Born in Dalkey, Dublin, Ireland on May 28, 1940, Maeve Binchy was raised by a father who made a living as an attorney and a mother who worked as a nurse. She was the oldest child in the family; she had a brother William, and a sister, Joan.

Binchy received a Bachelor of Arts degree from University College, Dublin in 1960. A year later, she landed a position as a history and Latin teacher in Dublin, which she held until the late 1960s, when she began working as a news reporter. Binchy's literary interest went beyond typical journalism, however, and she published her first of many short stories on female struggles in 1978. She would later lend her writing skills to various other works, and receive worldwide acclaim.

Acclaimed Writer

In the early 1980s, Binchy completed and published her first novel, Light a Penny Candle, in Britain. The book details the strong bond of two female friends. She followed with 1985's Echoes, a story about the life and hardships of Clare O'Brien, the daughter of a poor shopkeeper.

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.

Throughout her long career, Binchy authored 16 novels, some of which were international bestsellers, and most of which focused on women and Irish culture. "Nowadays, women realize that they are dealt a hand of cards and must play it," Binchy told The Chicago Tribune in a 1999 interview. "There are no makeovers in my books. The ugly duckling does not become a beautiful swan. She becomes a confident duck able to take charge of her own life and problems." 

Personal Life and Death

Binchy married Gordon Snell in 1977, and the couple lived in a small home in her hometown of Dalkey, Dublin, Ireland for many years.

On July 30, 2012, at the age of 72, Binchy died at a hospital in Dublin, following a short illness. Prime Minister Enda Kenny of Ireland made a statement following the news of Binchy's death: "Across Ireland and the world, people are mourning and celebrating Maeve Binchy. She is a huge loss wherever stories of love, hope, generosity and possibility are read and cherished."

One of Binchy's last written novels, A Week in Winter, is slated to be posthumously released by the end of 2012.

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