Fay Weldon, who wrote books like “The Life and Loves of a She-Devil” in 1983, died at age 91. During her career, the author wrote more than 30 novels, as well as short story collections, TV movies, and pieces of journalism.
Weldon was born in the UK but New Zealand is where he grew up. She wrote her first book in 1967, and both Praxis and Worst Fears were on the shortlists for the Booker and Whitbread literature prizes.
Weldon’s funny, cutting and mischievous stories about the lives and loves of women were often based on her own colorful and troubled personal life and relationships.
Author and screenwriter Fay Weldon has died “peacefully” at the age of 91.
— The Bookseller (@thebookseller) January 4, 2023
A family statement released by her agent said: “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Fay Weldon (CBE), author, essayist and playwright.”
“She died peacefully this morning 4th January 2023.” Jenny Colgan, an author, was the first to pay tribute. She said that Weldon was “formidable, fierce, and wonderful.”
Rev. Richard Coles, a broadcaster and author, said he was “so sorry” to hear about Weldon’s death. “I started out as an admirer of her fiction and I ended up taking her Holy Communion,” he tweeted.
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“She was amazing. May she rest in peace.” Weldon began his career as an advertising copywriter. He came up with famous slogans like “Go to work on an egg” before he became known as a novelist and screenwriter.
She worked in radio and TV, and in 1971, she wrote the first episode of the show Upstairs, Downstairs. The Life and Loves of a She-Devil was about a woman named Ruth Patchett.
When she found out that her husband was having an affair with an elegant novelist, she wanted to get even. It was turned into a BBC TV show with Dennis Waterman, Patricia Hodge, and Miriam Margolyes as the main characters. In the US, Meryl Streep turned it into a movie called She Devil.
Weldon’s other best-known work is The Cloning of Joanna May, which came out in 1989 and was also turned into a TV show starring Hodge, Brian Cox, and Peter Capaldi.
She said she chose to write about women who were often ignored or didn’t get much attention in the media. Feminism was a big part of a lot of Weldon’s work, even though her views on the subject made it hard for her to get along with feminism.
— Nell Leyshon (@NellLeyshon) January 4, 2023
Her sixth book, Praxis, was up for the Booker Prize in 1979. The Times critic Clare Clark recently called it her best work, saying that the author set out to “disabuse women of just about every comforting myth they might cling to, firing off savage truths as if it were a novelist’s job to break three taboos before breakfast.”
Weldon told the Guardian in 2006: “Praxis was the book that made my reputation, but it was only because I had gone through the original draught taking out all the jokes that anyone took it seriously. I didn’t do that again with any other book, and I’ve since been considered rather frivolous in some circles.”
In 1983, the writer was chosen to lead the panel of judges for the Booker Prize. At that event, she gave a speech about how badly publishers treated their writers. This speech upset one publisher so much that he walked over and punched her agent.
In 1996, Worst Fears got her a Whitbread nomination. In that movie, an actress has to face her fear that her husband will cheat on her.
So sorry to see the news of #FayWeldon. I had the great privilege of working on her recent fiction. She was rather wonderful, a satirical genius and a formidable writer – she never stopped. RIP Fay. pic.twitter.com/E5Wf0rNFu3
— Annabel Robinson (@AnnabelR0binson) January 4, 2023
Weldon also won the PEN/Macmillan Silver Pen Award for a collection of short stories called Wicked Women that same year. She also won the Los Angeles Times Fiction Prize, and in 2001, she was given the CBE.
In Death of a She-Devil, the follow-up to The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, which she wrote in 2017, Ruth is now 84 years old and has created a world where “women triumph and men submit.”
Weldon also taught creative writing at the universities of Bath Spa and Brunel… Follow us only on Lee Daily for more news like this.