Fay Weldon, Author of ‘The Life and Loves of a She-Devil,’ Dies at 91

Fay Weldon, the renowned English author, and playwright passed away at the age of 91. Over the course of her career, Weldon wrote more than 30 books, including her best-known work, “The Life and Loves of a She-Devil,” which was published in 1983 and later adapted into a television series and film.

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Fay Weldon (CBE), author, essayist and playwright.

A family statement released by her agent said: “

“She died peacefully this morning 4th January 2023.”

Author Jenny Colgan led the tributes, describing Weldon as “formidable, fierce and wonderful”.

Fellow writer Joanne Harris said she was “a remarkable woman”, while TV presenter Peter Purves said she was a “fantastic writer whose work lit up the 70’s and 80’s”.

Broadcaster and author Rev Richard Coles said he was “so sorry” to see news of Weldon’s death.

“I started out as an admirer of her fiction and I ended up taking her Holy Communion,” he tweeted. “She was amazing. May she rest in peace.”

Fay Weldon’s Distinguished Writing Career: From Advertising to Feminism

Before establishing herself as a novelist and playwright, Weldon worked as an advertising copywriter.

She created the inaugural episode of the Upstairs, Downstairs television series in 1971, and she has other radio and television credits to her name.

Ruth Patchett, a lady who sought vengeance after learning that her husband had been having an affair with a stylish novelist, was the subject of The Life and Loves of a She-Devil.

Dennis Waterman, Patricia Hodge, and Julie T Wallace starred in the subsequent BBC TV series. It was adapted into a She Devil-titled Meryl Streep movie in the US.

The Cloning of Joanna May, a 1989 novel by Weldon that was also adapted for television and starring Hodge, Brian Cox, and Peter Capaldi, was one of his best-known works.

She claimed that she wrote on purpose about women who were frequently ignored or underrepresented in the media. Weldon’s work frequently featured feminism, but her relationship with the movement was tumultuous because to some of her opinions about it.

Fay Weldon Early Life and Family: From Birmingham to Christchurch

Fay Weldon was born on September 22, 1931, in Birmingham, England to Franklin Birkinshaw, a member of a literary family. Her mother, Margaret Jepson, also had a background in literature and sometimes wrote novels under the pen name Pearl Bellairs, inspired by a character in an Aldous Huxley short story. Weldon’s maternal grandfather and uncle were also writers.

At the age of five, Weldon’s parents separated and eventually divorced in 1940. She was raised in Christchurch, New Zealand by her father, Frank Thornton Birkinshaw, a physician.

Fay Weldon Family

During the summers, she and her sister Jane would visit Auckland and Coromandel with their father. Weldon attended Christchurch Girls’ High School from 1944 to 1946.

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Growing up in a literary household, it’s no surprise that Weldon eventually found success as a writer herself. She began her career as an advertising copywriter before establishing herself as a novelist and playwright. Despite being born in England, Weldon spent much of her childhood in New Zealand, which would later influence her writing.

Fay Weldon’s Colorful Love Life: Pregnancy, Marriages, and Divorce

Fay Weldon’s personal life was just as varied and noteworthy as her writing career. In 1953, while working at the Foreign Office, Weldon became pregnant with musician Colyn Davies, who she met while he was working odd jobs as a doorman.

Despite wanting the child, she claimed that she had made up her mind not to desire the father. As a result, she married Ronald Bateman, a headmaster 25 years her senior, in 1957 after growing tired of supporting herself as a single mother. The couple spent two years living together in Acton, London before their marriage eventually dissolved.

At the age of 29, Weldon met her second husband, jazz musician and antique merchant Ron Weldon. She was expecting her second son, Dan, when they got married in 1963. Tom and Sam were later born, and the couple settled down in East Compton, Somerset.

Fay Weldon Husband

While pregnant with Dan, Weldon began writing for radio and television. The couple regularly saw therapists, but in 1992, Ron left Fay for his astrological therapist after discovering that their astrological signs were incompatible. Despite Ron’s death in 1994, just eight hours before the divorce was finalized, the couple had already begun divorce proceedings.

Weldon married her third husband, poet, and manager Nick Fox, in 1994, but she initiated divorce proceedings in 2020. On January 4, 2023, Fay Weldon passed away in a care facility in Northampton, England at the age of 91. She left behind her four sons, 12 grandchildren, and 5 great-grandchildren.