British novelist Fay Weldon dies at 91

Fay Weldon, a British author best known for her witty observations about women’s lives and sexual politics in books like The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, has passed away, her family announced on Wednesday. She was 91.

Weldon was a playwright, screenwriter and prolific novelist, producing 30 novels as well as short stories and plays written for television, radio and the stage. 

She was one of the writers on the popular 1970s drama series Upstairs, Downstairs, receiving an award from the Writers Guild of America for the show’s first episode.

“It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Fay Weldon (CBE), author, essayist and playwright. She died peacefully this morning January 4, 2023,” her family said in a statement released by her agent on Wednesday.

The Life and Loves of a She-Devil is the story of an ugly woman who alters her body and her life to seek revenge on a philandering husband. 

It was adapted into a TV series as well as a film starring Meryl Streep.

Weldon’s 1978 novel Praxis was shortlisted for the prestigious Booker Prize for Fiction.

Born in England in September 1931, Weldon was brought up in New Zealand and returned to the United Kingdom as a child. 

She studied economics and psychology at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, and worked briefly for the Foreign Office in London and as a journalist before becoming an advertising copywriter.

She published her first novel, The Fat Woman’s Joke, in 1967.

In 2002, at age 70, she published her memoir, Auto Da Fay. 

The narrative described what she called her “mildly scandalous life until my mid-thirties” and concluded in 1963, just as Weldon’s career as a novelist began.

“The sad truth is, my theory goes, that no one is much interested in what happens to women after they turn 35. Which is the age at which I stopped Auto da Fay: the age I stopped living and started writing instead, as a serious person,” she wrote on her website.

Weldon was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her services to literature in 2001.


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