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posted: 7/31/2012 12:01 AM

'Circle of Friends' author Binchy dies at 72

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Associated Press

LONDON -- Bestselling author Maeve Binchy, who was known for her depictions of small-town Irish life, has died in Dublin after a brief illness, according to Irish media reports. She was 72 years old.

The Irish Times, her former employer, told the AP it had spoken to Binchy's family and said the acclaimed author died in a Dublin hospital on Monday with her husband Gordon Snell by her side.

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Binchy, author of "Circle of Friends" and "Tara Road," was considered one of Ireland's most popular writers and sold more than 40 million books worldwide.

She wrote 16 novels, four collections of short stories, a play and a novella. Her work landed her on the New York Times' bestseller list and in Oprah's Book Club.

Describing her childhood in Ireland, Binchy wrote on her official website that she was "full of enthusiasms, mad fantasies, desperate urges to be famous and anxious to be a saint."

After graduating from University College Dublin, Binchy worked as a teacher before becoming a journalist, columnist and editor at the Irish Times. She later moved to England, where she assumed the post of the newspaper's London editor in the early 1970s.

Her first novel, "Light and Penny Candle," was published in 1982 and went on to become a bestseller.

Several of her works -- including "Circle of Friends" and "Tara Road" -- were turned into films. "Tara Road," about an Irish and American women who switch homes without having met, was chosen by Oprah Winfrey for her popular book club.

Binchy's last novel -- "Minding Frankie" -- was published in 2010, the same year she received a lifetime achievement award from the Irish Book Awards.

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