Maeve Binchy: The accidental writer who became a bestseller

This Sunday (30th July) marks the fifth anniversary of the passing of one of Ireland’s most beloved and successful authors, Maeve Binchy.

Maeve Binchy

Although we tend to associate beloved Irish writer Maeve Binchy with Dalkey, where she was born and where she lived in later life with her husband, the writer Gordon Snell, Maeve led an adventurous life. Her books have travelled all over the world, selling over 40 million copies – but she also did her own fair share of travelling. During her early career as a teacher, she spent time working in Israel on a Kibbutz, and lived in London from the early 1970s until 1980. It was while on the Kibbutz that Binchy’s career as a writer began, although it wasn’t her intention:

I never wanted to write. I just wrote letters home from a kibbutz in Israel to reassure my parents that I was still alive and well fed and having a great time. They thought these letters were brilliant and sent them to a newspaper. So I became a writer by accident. 

To celebrate Maeve’s life, we’ve pulled together some of her pithiest, wittiest quotes:

  1. Nobody is ordinary if you know where to look.
  2. We are all the heroes and heroines of our own lives. 
  3. I don’t have ugly ducklings turning into swans in my stories. I have ugly ducklings turning into confident ducks.
  4. The most important thing to realise is that everyone is capable of telling a story. It doesn’t matter where we were born or how we grew up.
  5. Writing is a bit like going on a diet; you should either tell everyone or no one
  6. The whole art of life is knowing the right time to say things.
  7. I’m getting better, happier and nicer as I grow older, so I would be terrific in a couple of hundred years’ time.
  8. I had a very happy childhood, which is unsuitable if you’re going to be an Irish writer.
  9. If you don’t go to a dance, you’ll never be rejected, but you don’t get to dance, either.
  10. If you’re going on a plane journey, you’re more likely to take one of my stories than Finnegan’s Wake.

We’re delighted to feature Maeve in EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum as a wonderful ambassador for Irish literature and culture. To learn more about Maeve Binchy and her writing, visit her website.