Award-winning novelist and journalist Kate Saunders has died due to cancer at the age of 62 at her home in Archway, London.
The author, who had also been battling multiple sclerosis, won the Costa Children's Book Award in 2014 for her book Five Children on the Western Front. She passed away last Friday (21 April), according to her family.
Her sister, Louisa Saunders, who announced the news on Twitter wrote: “My sister, who we lost last Friday. The warmest, bravest, most generous and most brilliant woman I will ever know. Heaven knows how we will live without her.”
Here is everything you need to know about her.
Who was Kate Saunders?
The eldest of six children, Saunders was born to a Catholic family in London in 1960. Her mother was journalist Betty Saunders, and her father was public relations advocate Basil Saunders. She attended the Camden School for Girls for her education.
In addition to Five Children on the Western Front - which was nominated for the Carnegie Medal in 2016 - her other works included The Belfry Witches, The Marrying Game, Storm in the Citadel, and The Prodigal Father, for which she received the Betty Trask Award in 1986.
She also contributed to various UK publications including The Sunday Times, The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph, and Cosmopolitan.
Saunders was also well-known for her television appearances on various BBC arts programs and - along with comedian Sandi Toksvig - making a guest appearance on the premiere of the topical news comedy series, Have I Got News For You.
She worked as an actress through her twenties, and appeared in a 1982 episode of Only Fools and Horses as a policewoman whom Rodney Trotter dated.
Only Fools and Horses also paid tribute to Saunders, saying in a tweet: “We are sorry to learn of the passing of Kate Saunders, who played police woman Sandra in the episode The Long Legs of the Law in 1982. In addition to her acting career, Kate was an award-winning novelist, journalist and critic. Our thoughts are with her family.”
A fan commented: “I felt Sandra was the first intelligent woman character in Only Fools, something that John Sullivan really struggled to write before she came along. Kate Saunders did so much with what little screen time she had to bring Sandra to glorious life. She will be sorely missed.”