Tributes paid to Paul Torday

Tributes have been paid to Salmon Fishing in the Yemen author Paul Torday, who died yesterday (19th December) at the age of 67.

Torday only began his writing career in his late 50s, but became a bestselling author when Weidenfeld & Nicolson published Salmon Fishing in the Yemen in 2007. It went on to sell more than 500,000 copies and win the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize, and be made into a film starring Ewan McGregor and Emily Blunt.

He passed away at his home in Northumberland yesterday, surrounded by his family.

Kirsty Dunseath, publishing director at W&N fiction, said: "In many ways Paul Torday invented his own genre – his extraordinary fiction was filled with warmth and a wry, humane wit. He was a gentle observer  of the foibles of human nature and our social behaviour. He wanted to entertain but his novels were also infused with a deep social awareness, exploring issues such as political expediency, alcoholism, mental illness, class and our national heritage. He was a very gentle man, thoughtful and considered in everything he did and it was a privilege and a joy to have worked with him."

Torday's agent, Mark Brown at Jenny Brown Associates, also praised the writer. He said: "Paul was a joy to work with. He was in life – as he was in his fiction – a man of great humanity; but one who could puncture human folly with a wonderfully wry wit. I shall miss him very much: he was a writer of rare talent, and a true gentleman. Paul, I raise a glass of the finest Bordeaux to you."

Torday read English at Pembroke College, Oxford, before moving to work in engineering industry, which he did for the next 30 years. Scaling back his work responsibilities, he began to write seriously, publishing six further books after Salmon Fishing in the Yemen, including 2013's Light Shining in the Forest.

He is survived by his wife Penelope, his former wife Jane, his sons Piers and Nicholas and his stepsons Jonathan and Charles.