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Novelist Dame Shirley Conran has died aged 91


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Shirley Conran wrote books including Lace (Andy Butterton/PA)

British author and journalist Dame Shirley Conran has died aged 91.

Her son, the designer Jasper Conran, wrote on Instagram on Thursday: “Shirl girl has flown away, a lark ascending.”

Last week, Dame Shirley, known for her best-selling books including Superwoman and Lace, received a damehood in her hospital bed in London for her services to mathematics education, having founded the Maths Anxiety Trust.

Mr Conran thanked the “wonderful doctors and nurses” at St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington in his Instagram post.

Dame Shirley began writing books after she was diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) in her late 30s and could no longer work full-time.

In 1975, she wrote acclaimed non-fiction book Superwoman, recognised as a feminist practical guidebook.

While her first novel titled Lace was published in 1982 and later turned into a TV miniseries in the US starring Bess Armstrong, Brooke Adams and Arielle Dombasle.

Her other novels include Savages, Crimson and Tiger Eyes.

Former prime minister Liz Truss, who made the author a dame in her resignation honours list at the end of 2023, paid tribute on X, formerly Twitter, writing: “She was a life force, incredibly generous and a dedicated campaigner for maths education. I am very grateful for all the encouragement and support she gave me.”

Last week Sir Kenneth Olisa, the Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, presented Dame Shirley with the honour in hospital.

Sharing two pictures from the ceremony, he wrote on social media: “Yesterday @ImperialNHS, surrounded by her family & staff of the Manvers Acute Respiratory Unit I was privileged, on behalf of His Majesty, to invest Dame Shirley Conran as a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to Mathematics Education.”


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