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Fay Weldon: The Life And Loves Of A She-Devil author dies aged 91 | Breaking News News

Novelist Fay Weldon, best known for her works The Life And Loves Of A She-Devil and Praxis has died aged 91.

A family statement posted on Twitter read: “It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Fay Weldon (CBE), author, essayist and playwright.

“She died peacefully this morning 4 January 2023.”

The novelist, playwright and screenwriter’s body of work includes more than 30 novels – as well as short stories and plays written for television, radio and the stage.

Previously writing on her website to fans, Weldon apologised for being “out of touch for a long time,” before explaining that she had been hospitalised due to suffering from a broken bone in her back and a stroke.

She wrote: “I’ve been out of touch for a long time, for which, my apologies.

“I have been hospitalised for much of the last year, first with a broken bone in my back and then with a stroke, therefore my silence. I am mostly recovered.”

Born in September 1931, Weldon returned to the UK as a child after being raised in New Zealand.

She went on to read economics and psychology at the University of St Andrews in Scotland and later received an honorary doctorate from the institution in 1990.

Working briefly for the Foreign Office in London and as a journalist, Weldon then moved to start work as an advertising copywriter.

Leaving her career to focus on her writing, she published her first novel, The Fat Woman’s Joke, in 1967. She went on to write children’s books, non-fiction books and newspaper articles.

Weldon was one of the writers on the hit drama series Upstairs, Downstairs which ran from 1971 to 1975. The show’s first episode won an award from the Writers Guild of America.

Her novels, including Down Among The Women (1971) and Female Friends (1975), explored issues surrounding women’s relationships with men, children, parents and each other.

British author Fay Weldon presents her book 'She may not leave' (German title: 'Die Moral der Frauen') during the 2007 Frankfurt Book Fair in Frankfurt

The 1978 novel Praxis was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction and later, Weldon chaired the 1983 judges’ panel for the prestigious award.

At the age of 70, in 2002 she published a memoir called Auto Da Fa, and before retiring in 2021 taught as a professor of creative writing at Bath Spa University.

In 2001, she was made CBE for her services to literature in the New Year Honours list.

JK Rowling calls Nicola Sturgeon ‘destroyer of women’s rights’ – as author backs protests over Scotland’s new trans law | UK News

JK Rowling has tweeted a picture of herself in a T-shirt that calls Scotland’s first minister a “destroyer of women’s rights”.

The author also gave her support to people protesting over a new gender recognition law in the country.

She posted: “I stand in solidarity with @ForWomenScot and all women protesting and speaking outside the Scottish Parliament. #NoToSelfID.”

The legislation aims to amend a previous law to make it easier for transgender people to be legally recognised as their chosen gender and get a new birth certificate.

They will no longer need to provide medical reports or evidence, and the minimum age of applicants for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) will be cut from 18 to 16.

A majority of MSPs on a parliamentary committee have recommended that the general principles of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill should be approved.

Scotland’s social justice secretary has said it won’t give trans people new rights but is about “simplifying and improving the process for a trans person to gain legal recognition”.

In a statement, Shona Robison said: “Our support for trans rights does not conflict with our continued strong commitment to uphold the rights and protections that women and girls currently have under the 2010 Equality Act. This bill makes no changes to that act.”

People protested against the planned law outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on Thursday.

Some carried signs reading “no one was born in the wrong body”, “humans can’t change sex” and “keep prisons single sex”.

Former Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont said the committee “should listen, they should challenge, they should argue, they should probe”.

She added: “They should not dismiss, because in that world of dismissal, you shoot the messenger. You ignore the message, you make bad law and other people live with the consequences.”

Rowling has been criticised by some over her views on women’s rights and trans people but strongly denies being transphobic.

In January, police said they wouldn’t charge trans activists who tweeted photos showing her address – so-called “doxing”.

Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall trilogy, dies aged 70 | UK News

Double Booker Prize winner Dame Hilary Mantel, author of the epic Wolf Hall trilogy, has died aged 70.

In a statement, her publisher 4th Estate books said: “We are heartbroken at the death of our beloved author, Dame Hilary Mantel, and our thoughts are with her friends and family, especially her husband, Gerald.

“This is a devastating loss and we can only be grateful she left us with such a magnificent body of work.”

The British writer won the Booker Prize for Wolf Hall, and its sequel, Bring Up the Bodies.

The conclusion to the trilogy, Mirror and the Light, was published in 2020. It was an instant number one fiction best-seller and longlisted for Booker Prize the same year, winning the Walter Scott Prize for Historical Fiction, which she first won for Wolf Hall.

The trilogy, which charts the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell in the court of King Henry VIII, has been translated into 41 languages, with sales of more than five million worldwide.

The first two books were adapted for the BBC and broadcast on BBC Two in January 2015, earning huge critical acclaim.

The six-part series, directed by Peter Kosminsky, starred Mark Rylance as Thomas Cromwell, Damian Lewis as Henry VIII and Claire Foy as Anne Boleyn.

At the 2016 TV BAFTAs, it won best drama series, while Rylance picked up the award for best actor. At the Golden Globes the same year, it was named best mini-series.

Paying tribute, publishers HarperCollins described Dame Hilary as “one of the greatest English novelists of this century”.

“Her beloved works are considered modern classics. She will be greatly missed.”

Bill Hamilton, Dame Hilary’s agent at literary agency A.M. Heath, said it had been the “greatest privilege” to work with her throughout her career, adding she would also be remembered for “her capacity to electrify a live audience”.

He said: “Her wit, stylistic daring, creative ambition and phenomenal historical insight mark her out as one of the greatest novelists of our time.”

“Emails from Hilary were sprinkled with bon mots and jokes as she observed the world with relish and pounced on the lazy or absurd and nailed cruelty and prejudice,” he said.

“There was always a slight aura of otherworldliness about her, as she saw and felt things us ordinary mortals missed, but when she perceived the need for confrontation she would fearlessly go into battle.

“And all of that against the backdrop of chronic health problems, which she dealt with so stoically. We will miss her immeasurably, but as a shining light for writers and readers she leaves an extraordinary legacy. Our thoughts go out to her beloved husband Gerald, family and friends,” he added.

Harry Potter author JK Rowling shared a tweet from 4th Estate Books announcing Mantel’s death, writing “We’ve lost a genius.”

Nicholas Evans, author of The Horse Whisperer, dies aged 72 | UK News

Author Nicholas Evans, who wrote The Horse Whisperer, has died following a heart attack at the age of 72, his agents have said.

Born in Bromsgrove, Worcestershire, his career saw him work in newspapers and television as well as becoming a bestselling author.

His first novel, The Horse Whisperer, published in 1995, has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide and been translated into 36 languages.

The story was adapted for the big screen in 1998 by Hollywood star Robert Redford, who starred as the title character, with Scarlett Johansson playing young rider Grace MacLean in her breakout role.

During the 1970s Mr Evans worked as a journalist on the Evening Chronicle in Newcastle upon Tyne before moving into broadcasting media.

He specialised in US politics and foreign affairs and spent time covering the war in Beirut

In September 2008 Mr Evans nearly died after consuming poisonous mushrooms and had to have a kidney transplant, with his daughter donating the life-saving organ.

In a statement, his agents said: “United Agents are very sad to announce the sudden death of the celebrated bestselling author Nicholas Evans who died suddenly on Tuesday this week following a heart attack, aged 72.”

Salman Rushdie: World reacts as controversial author stabbed in New York state | World News

The stabbing of author Sir Salman Rushdie has shocked and horrified fellow writes and world leaders, with many praising him as a defender of free speech.

The 75-year-old remains on a ventilator after being airlifted to hospital and undergoing hours of surgery following the attack in New York state.

And messages of support have been pouring in for the Indian-born British author.

Fellow novelist Ian McEwan said: “This appalling attack on my dear friend Salman represents an assault on freedom of thought and speech.

“These are the freedoms that underpin all our rights and liberties. Salman has been an inspirational defender of persecuted writers and journalists across the world.”

Read more:
Why is Salman Rushdie so controversial?

Norwegian William Nygaard, who was shot and severely wounded in 1993 after publishing Sir Salman’s work, said: “He is a leading author who has meant so much to literature, and he had found a good life in the United States.”

Home Secretary Priti Patel tweeted: “Shocked and appalled to hear of the unprovoked and senseless attack on Sir Salman Rushdie.

“Freedom of expression is a value we hold dear and attempts to undermine it must not be tolerated. My thoughts are with Sir Salman and his family.”

Boris Johnson said: “Appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie has been stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend.

“We are all hoping he is okay.”

French President Emmanuel Macron tweeted: “For 33 years, Salman Rushdie has embodied freedom and the fight against obscurantism… His battle is ours, a universal one.”

Melvyn Bragg, Ian McEwan Sir Salman Rushdie poses at Sir Salman Rushdie Book Launch Party at the The Collection on Friday September 14, 2012 in London. (Photo by Jon Furniss/Invision/AP)
Ian McEwan and Sir Salman Rushdie

Multimillion-selling horror writer Stephen King tweeted: “I hope Salman Rushdie is okay.” before adding “What kind of ***hat stabs a writer, anyway? F*****!”

Comedian and author David Baddiel tweeted: “It’s appalling what has happened to Salman Rushdie. It’s also appalling that there are people who will think he brought it on himself or somehow deserved it.”

US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said: “Today, the country and the world witnessed a reprehensible attack against the writer Salman Rushdie. This act of violence is appalling.

“All of us in the Biden-Harris Administration are praying for his speedy recovery. We are thankful to good citizens and first responders for helping Mr Rushdie so quickly after the attack and to law enforcement for its swift and effective work, which is ongoing.”

And Suzanne Nossel, of free expression group Pen America, said: “While we do not know the origins or motives of this attack, all those around the world who have met words with violence or called for the same are culpable for legitimising this assault on a writer while he was engaged in his essential work of connecting to readers.”

Sir Salman Rushdie: Satanic Verses author is on a ventilator and may lose eye after he was stabbed on stage, says agent | US News

Author Salman Rushdie will likely lose an eye and has suffered severed nerves in an arm and damage to his liver after he was stabbed, his agent has said.

The 75-year-old remains on a ventilator after being airlifted to hospital and undergoing hours of surgery following the attack in New York state.

“The news is not good. Salman will likely lose one eye, the nerves in his arm were severed, and his liver was stabbed and damaged,” Andrew Wylie said in a written statement.

The Indian-born British author was being introduced to the audience ahead of giving a lecture at the Chautauqua Institution, when a man stormed the stage and began attacking him, according to witnesses.

Author Salman Rushdie, behind screen left, is tended to after he was attacked during a lecture. Pic: AP
Medics put up a screen as they tended to the author’s wounds. Pic: AP
Pic: Mary Newsom
Pic: Mary Newsom

As Sir Salman fell to the floor, the man was pinned down by audience members and staff who ran on stage. The suspect was arrested by a state trooper soon after, and is now in custody.

He has been identified as 24-year-old Hadi Matar from Fairview, New Jersey, who bought a pass for the event. Police say they do not yet know a motive for the assault, but they believe the suspect was acting alone.

A person was pictured being detained outside the Chautauqua Institution. Photo: AP
A person was pictured being detained outside the Chautauqua Institution. Photo: AP

Read more: Why is Salman Rushdie so controversial?

Witness Pilar Pintagro told Sky News: “We were very scared because the first place (he was stabbed) was in the neck and that’s where the blood started to splash everywhere, and then he stabbed him in the shoulders and continued stabbing several times because it was so fast.

“People from the audience actually jumped onto the stage to try to put him down and Salman was trying to walk away from this guy, but he continued stabbing several times, and he was finally pinned down.”

Salman Rushdie
Sir Salman was airlifted to hospital

‘In shock’

The writer was helped by a doctor who was in the audience before emergency services arrived.

Police said the event’s moderator, Henry Reese, suffered a minor head injury after also being attacked.

Another witness Julia Mineeva Braun told Sky News that as Sir Salman was being introduced “all of a sudden from the left-hand side of the stage a short man, (dressed) all in black, ran out, and he approached Mr Rushdie”.

“It was very quick… we thought he was fixing his microphone, and then we saw the knife. He started stabbing him in the neck first… and Mr Rushdie got up and started running. We’re still in shock.”

Rushdie continued to write despite threat to life

Salman Rushdie is an Indian-born British author whose writing about religion and politics has made him controversial in some parts of the world.

His first three novels – Grimus (1975), Midnight’s Children (1981) and Shame (1983) – were all met with praise but it was his fourth – The Satanic Verses – that brought criticism.

Some of the scenes in the 1988 book depict a character modelled on the Prophet Muhammad and this was met with anger from some members of the Muslim community in the UK.

Protests spread to Pakistan in January 1989 and the following month, the spiritual leader of revolutionary Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, condemned the book and issued a fatwa against him.

A bounty was offered for his death. Rushdie went into hiding under the protection of Scotland Yard in the UK, although he appeared in public occasionally.

Despite the threat to his life, he continued to write and in 1998 the Iranian government said it would no longer enforce the fatwa. But Ayatollah Khomeini’s successor as Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said in 2005 that the fatwa was still valid.

Rushdie wrote about his experience in the third-person memoir Joseph Anton in 2012. He was knighted in 2007, a move that was criticised by the Iranian and Pakistani governments.

Sir Salman’s publisher Penguin Random House said they were “deeply shocked” by the incident.

“We condemn this violent public assault, and our thoughts are with Salman and his family at this distressing time.”

White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan described the attack as “appalling”, adding: “We’re thankful to good citizens and first responders for helping him so swiftly.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Twitter he was “appalled that Sir Salman Rushdie has been stabbed while exercising a right we should never cease to defend”.

He added: “Right now my thoughts are with his loved ones. We are all hoping he is okay.”

Sir Salman lives in New York City and became a US citizen in 2016. His lecture was expected to discuss America’s role as an asylum for writers and other artists in exile, and as a home for freedom of creative expression.

Novelist Salman Rushdie holds paperback copy of his controversial novel. "The Satanic Verses" March 4, 1992. Pic: AP
Pic: AP

His fourth book, The Satanic Verses, was banned in 1988 in a number of countries with large Muslim populations, including Iran, after it was considered by some to contain blasphemous passages.

In 1989, Iran’s then leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa, or edict, calling for Sir Salman’s death.

The Middle East country also offered a bounty of more than $3m for anyone who kills the writer.

The Snowman author and illustrator Raymond Briggs dies aged 88 | UK News

Author and illustrator Raymond Briggs, best known for the 1978 classic The Snowman, has died aged 88.

The announcement was made by his publisher, Penguin Random House.

The Snowman was first released as a picture book – and has sold more than 5.5 million copies worldwide – before it was turned into a much-loved animation in 1982. The show was made for Channel 4 and has since become a festive staple and shown every Christmas since.

Briggs also created beloved children’s books Father Christmas and Fungus The Bogeyman.

A statement from his family said: “We know that Raymond’s books were loved by and touched millions of people around the world, who will be sad to hear this news. Drawings from fans – especially children’s drawings – inspired by his books were treasured by Raymond and pinned up on the wall of his studio.

“He lived a rich and full life and said he felt lucky to have had both his wife Jean and his partner of over 40 years Liz in his life.

“He shared his love of nature with Liz on South Downs walks and on family holidays to Scotland and Wales. He also shared his sense of fun and craziness with his family, and with his family of artist friends – at get-togethers, fancy dress parties, and summer picnics in the garden.

“He played practical jokes and enjoyed them being played on him. All of us close to him knew his irreverent humour – this could be biting in his work when it came to those in power. He liked the Guardian editorial describing himself as an ‘iconoclastic national treasure’.”

An extraordinary legacy

Raymond Briggs At His Sussex Home.
Raymond Briggs at his Sussex home

Born in Wimbledon in 1934, Briggs studied at the Wimbledon School of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art before briefly pursuing painting.

After becoming a professional illustrator, he worked and taught illustration at the Brighton College of Art.

His won numerous prizes across his career, including the Kurt Maschler Award, The Children’s Book of the Year, the Dutch Silver Pen Award. He was made a CBE for services to literature in 2017.

Francesca Dow, managing director at Penguin Random House Children’s, said: “I am very proud that Puffin has been the home of Raymond’s children’s books for so many years.

“Raymond’s books are picture masterpieces that address some of the fundamental questions of what it is to be human, speaking to both adults and children with a remarkable economy of words and illustrations.”

She said he was “a brilliantly observant, funny storyteller, honest about how life is rather than how adults might wish to tell it to children”.

“A kindness, integrity, and generosity run through all his books,” she added.

“And so in life: Raymond was a generous, unjealous spirit who was a pleasure to work with, as well as to visit in his Sussex cottage and experience his teasing genius in its home. He was funny! He made us laugh a lot. I will miss him. All of us who had the privilege of working with him will miss him.”

Ms Dow said Briggs had been “unique” and had “inspired generations of creators of picture books, graphic novels, and animations”.

She added: “He leaves an extraordinary legacy and a big hole.”

THE SNOWMAN  - Raymond Briggs

A ‘titan of industry’

Illustrator Rob Biddulph, whose titles include Dog Gone and Blown Away, paid tribute to Brigg’s influence on the industry.

“A titan in our industry and a true one-off,” he said.

“The Snowman was a work of undeniable genius – a game-changer, not just in the world of children’s books, but books full stop. Thank you for inspiring me, Mr Briggs. RIP.”

The Book Trust, which awarded Briggs a lifetime achievement award in 2017, said it was “devastated” to hear of his death.

Cressida Cowell, author and illustrator of How To Train Your Dragon, said: “Deeply sad to hear of the death of Raymond Briggs.

“What a magnificent legacy he leaves, from his iconic Father Christmas and the Snowman to the terrifying Where the Wind Blows. His books brought so much joy and inspired so many, touching, hilarious, and heartbreaking work “

British author Lara Maiklem called Briggs “a genius”.

Maiklem, who has worked with Briggs, tweeted alongside a picture of his illustration of Fungus the Bogeyman: “So sad to hear about Raymond Briggs this morning.

“A huge fan since I was a child, I had the great fortune of working with him a few years ago.

“Grumpy and difficult, he was nonetheless a genius.

“Nothing is permanent but woe.”