Bestselling Irish author Lucinda Riley, best known for the Seven Sisters series, has died aged 55 after battling cancer for four years.
The global publishing community who worked with her over the last decade of her career have paid tribute to her life and work. Riley has been a published author for almost 30 years and continued even after being diagnosed with cancer. She died on 11th June.
Riley was born on 16th February 1966 in the village of Drumbeg, Ireland. She originally went into acting before becoming ill from a virus and then writing her first book aged 23, later taken on by a literary agent. Her current book The Missing Sister (Macmillan) hit number one in the Original Fiction chart last week.
Jeremy Trevathan, m.d. of Pan Macmillan’s adult publishing division, said: “It’s been an immense and very rare privilege to work with Lucinda. Popular fiction is often looked down on but when authors like Lucinda break through and strike an emotional chord with their readers that really is the joy of publishing. Lucinda had an enormous capacity for fun, friendship and love and I was honoured to call her a friend."
He added: "I, and the whole team at Pan Mac, are so thankful to have been given the opportunity to go on this journey with her. I am going to miss her terribly and I know many of my colleagues here and around the world will do so too.”
Riley’s family said in a statement: “To Lucinda’s friends and readers around the world, we are so sorry to have to tell you that Lucinda died peacefully this morning, surrounded by her family, who were so important to her. We realise that this will be a terrible shock for most people, who won’t have been aware that Lucinda had been battling cancer for four years.
"During those four years, Lucinda penned five novels, and this week, The Missing Sister is number one in book charts across the world. Lucinda touched the lives of all those she met, and those who turned the pages of her stories. She radiated love and kindness in everything she did, and will continue to inspire us all forever. Above all, Lucinda loved life, and lived every moment to the full.”
The family finished the statement by sharing Riley’s own words: “Through the pain and the joy of the journey, I have learnt the most important lesson life can offer, and I am glad of it. The moment is all we have.”
Pan Macmillan described Riley’s most recent success, saying: “The Missing Sister, the seventh book in Lucinda’s Seven Sisters series, had recently reached Number one in all of Pan Macmillan’s largest English language markets in its first week of publication, seeing fans queuing around the block in some territories to get their copies.
“In South Africa, it was the fastest selling fiction title in the past five years. In New Zealand it became the biggest launch for a book since the release of Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol in September 2009. In Australia, it shot to No 1 in the overall market. There are now 250,000 copies in print across all markets.”
Riley achieved 85 number one spots around the world, the publisher said. Her books have been nominated for numerous awards, including the Italian Bancarella prize, the Lovely Books award in Germany, and the Romantic Novel of the Year award. In 2020 she received the Dutch Platinum award for sales over 300,000 copies for a single novel in one year. “The proudest moment of her life was when, after 27 years as a published author, in autumn 2019, The Butterfly Room topped the Sunday Times bestseller list for the first time,” Pan Macmillan said.
Other projects include The Guardian Angels series of books for children, written in collaboration with her eldest son Harry Whittaker. The first installment, Grace and the Christmas Angel, will be published around the world and in the UK in October 2021 by Macmillan Children’s Books.
Through Nielsen BookScan she has sold 1.46 million copies in the UK for £9.1m. The Olive Tree (2017) is her bestseller with just under 158,000 copies sold for almost £749,000.