The Circle of Friends author sold more than 40 million books worldwide and her work was translated into 30 languages.

One of her best known books, Circle of Friends, was adapted into a movie starring Minnie Driver and Saffron Burrows.

A national treasure, she began working life as a teacher before becoming a journalist and columnist. Her books – which include first novel Light A Penny Candle (published in 1982), Firefly Summer and The Glass Lake – were known for their wonderfully drawn female characters and enduring themes of love, friendship and family.

Celebrated authors clamoured to pay tribute to Binchy.  Ian Rankin called her a “gregarious, larger than life, ebullient recorder of human foibles and wonderment”, while Jilly Cooper said she was “a darling, I am very, very very sad.”

Binchy’s final book, Minding Frankie, was published in 2010.

Image: Getty