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Tributes paid to Georgy Girl author Margaret Forster, who has died aged 77

Published 08/02/2016

Hunter Davies pictured in 1986 with his wife Margaret Forster who has died
Hunter Davies pictured in 1986 with his wife Margaret Forster who has died

Tributes have been paid to acclaimed novelist Margaret Forster who has died aged 77.

The award-winning author, who wrote Georgy Girl and Diary Of An Ordinary Woman, died on Monday at the Marie Curie Hospice in Hampstead, north London after suffering cancer in her back.

Her husband Hunter Davies, also a writer and journalist, told the Press Association: "She was a remarkable woman in every way."

Born in Carlisle, Ms Forster won a scholarship to Oxford and then became a teacher at a girls' school in Islington, north London, before her writing career took off.

Her big break came with Georgy Girl, the story of a young woman in 1960s' London who is romantically pursued by her father's older employer and the young lover of her promiscuous and pregnant flatmate.

The book was turned into a successful film starring Lynn Redgrave as Georgy, Charlotte Rampling, Alan Bates and James Mason. It also featured a song of the same name by The Seekers.

Mr Davies said his wife was "the cleverest woman" he ever met.

He said: "She was emotionally clever, in that she could always understand people and predict their actions and their feelings and their motives, which I can never do. And she was a brilliant critic as well.

"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."

He added: "She had a double mastectomy 40 years so she's had a remarkable life considering she had it for so long."

In 2014, Mr Davies reported that his wife was distinctly unimpressed when he was awarded an OBE and said that she had told him if it had been a knighthood, she would have divorced him.

A Man Booker Prize judge in 1980, Ms Forster was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 1975. A spokesman said: "Margaret Forster was an extraordinarily prolific and gifted writer of fiction, non-fiction and literary criticism.

"Her fellow Fellows of the Royal Society of Literature pay tribute to her work, and offer their condolences to her family."

Chatto & Windus, the publisher of her books for 30 years, said she had written more than 40 works of fiction and non-fiction.

Her long-term editor, Alison Samuel, said: "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."

Ms Forster's novels included Have The Men Had Enough? (1989), The Memory Box (1999), and Lady's Maid (1990).

Her biography of Elizabeth Barrett Browning won the Heinemann Award in 1989 and her work Daphne Du Maurier: The Secret Life Of The Renowned Storyteller won the Writers' Guild Award for Best Non-Fiction in 1993.

In 2014 she wrote a memoir, My Life In Houses, which followed two previous memoirs, Hidden Lives (1995) and Precious Lives (1998).

Her latest novel, How To Measure A Cow, will be released on March 3.

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