'Remarkable' author Margaret Forster dies

'Remarkable' author Margaret Forster dies

Margaret Forster has died, aged 77, following a battle with cancer in her back. 

Her husband, journalist and writer Hunter Davies, told the BBC she'd had "a remarkable life considering she had it for so long". Forster had a double mastectomy 40 years ago. 

Davies revealed Forster's terminal illness over the weekend in a Sunday Times column, in which he said had been left feeling "dazed and disoriented" the past four weeks.

Forster died in a Marie Curie Hospice near her north London home in Hampstead yesterday morning (8th February).

The award-winning author wrote over 40 works of fiction and non-fiction, including her 1965 novel Georgy Girl (Vintage), about a young woman and her promiscuous housemate in swinging 1960s London, that was adapted for the silver screen in 1966 and later inspired a pop hit of the same name by The Seekers.

Forster was born in Carlisle in May 1938 and, before her writing career took off, was a teacher at a girls' school in Islington.

Her most recent book is My Life In Houses, published by Chatto & Windus in November 2014, a memoir looking back at seven houses she had loved and lived in, taking readers via Oxford, Hampstead, the Lake District and a spell in the Mediterranean. Her new novel, How To Measure a Cow, will be released on 3rd March. 

Her publisher, Chatto & Windus, said: "We are deeply saddened by the news of Margaret Forster’s death earlier today. We had the pleasure and honour of publishing her for 30 years. She wrote over forty works of fiction and non-fiction, ranging in subject from contemporary and historical novels to literary biography and memoir. Her books were both critical and popular successes throughout this long and productive career. She was also a wonderfully perceptive reader and an avid enthusiast and supporter of new writing. We publish her new novel, How to Measure a Cow, on 3rd March, alongside the paperback of her poignant memoir A Life in Houses. She will be sorely missed."

Her long-term editor, Alison Samuel, said of Forster: "I owe Margaret so much, not least my job at Chatto & Windus (she recommended me to her new publisher Carmen Callil). She was a favourite author to edit - no nonsense, funny, feisty, responsive, and she sent the best postcards. I can't believe I won't see her distinctive handwriting again. What a very sad day."

Her daughter, Caitlin Davies, wrote on Twitter earlier: "Our lovely mum Margaret Forster died this morning. Her books will live on." 

Hunter told the Press Association that Forster, "a remarkable woman in every way", had never been interested in publicity or money. He said: "She had an agreement with her publisher not to do literary lunches or do any broadcasting, and she actually didn't care whether the books were published or not. Her fun was in writing them and if the publisher didn't want to publish it, so what? She'd move on to the next one.

“[She] always had an opinion whether asked for it or not, and she was just the most marvellous woman. She was not interested in money. She was not interested in publicity."

Novelist Elizabeth Day led tributes to Forster on Twitter, calling her "an under-appreciated wonder of a writer who was once very nice to me as a debut novelist". 

Susannah Otter, who worked with Forster at Vintage, tweeted: "Remembering Margaret Forster: charming, sharp as a tack and a total pleasure to work with. What a woman."

Penguin Random House UK added: "We're sad to hear that Margaret Forster has passed away, and our thoughts are with her family."