The former Irish Times literary correspondent Eileen Battersby has died aged 60 following a car crash in County Meath this weekend.
Battersby, originally from California, started her career in journalism with the Sunday Tribune before moving to The Irish Times as a literary reviewer and arts journalist in 1988, joining the staff two years later. She was appointed literary correspondent in 2000 and left the newspaper in July of this year.
The Irish Times said that, while often controversial in her views, she had become "one of the country’s leading critics with an encyclopedic knowledge of the literary canon", as well as a major supporter of literature in translation.
The newspaper's editor Paul O’Neill, said Battersby’s “distinctive voice, passion, insight and sharp critical faculties” had made “an immeasurable contribution to Irish Times literary coverage over three decades and won her an international audience and reputation as one of the most influential critics of her generation”.
Prominent novelist and former Irish Times literary editor John Banville said: “Eileen was my dear friend – and the most delightfully difficult person I ever worked with. Part of the difficulty was that she would NEVER relent when the question was of quality – in her purview, no talent went uncelebrated, no mediocrity went unmasked.
“She loved literature with a passion almost as intense as her love of animals and the natural world. And she had such a rich sense of humour, especially when the joke was on her. Oh dear, how we shall miss her.”
Battersby was also an author herself, and published her first novel, Teethmarks on my Tongue, with Head of Zeus' Apollo imprint earlier this year. Head of Zeus' editor-in-chief Neil Belton pays tribute to her here.