Maeve Binchy was born in Dublin in 1939, the oldest of the four children. She went on to study at University College Dublin (where she earned a bachelor’s degree in history), worked as a teacher of French, Latin, and history at various girls’ schools, then a journalist at The Irish Times, and later became a writer of novels, short stories, and dramatic works.
Maeve joined the staff at The Irish Times as a writer, columnist, the first Women’s Page editor then the London editor, later reporting for the paper from London before returning to Ireland.
Her debut novel Light a Penny Candle sold for the largest sum ever paid for a first novel: £52,000 in in 1983. The timing was fortuitous, as Maeve and her husband were two months behind with the mortgage at the time. However, Maeve – who joked that she could write as fast as she could talk – ultimately became one of Ireland’s richest women.
Her first book was rejected five times. She would later describe these rejections as “a slap in the face… It’s like if you don’t go to a dance you can never be rejected but you’ll never get to dance either”.
In all, Maeve Binchy published 17 novels, four short-story collections, a play and a novella. She wrote several dramas specifically for radio and the silver screen. Additionally, several of her novels and short stories were adapted for radio, film, and television. Maeve died in 2012, aged 73.