Dame Shirley Conran: British novelist dies aged 91 as fashion designer son Jasper Conran pays tribute

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Fames British novelist and campaigner Dame Shirley Conran has died at the age of 91.

Fashion designer Jasper Conran, Dame Shirley’s son, confirmed the news on Instagram on Thursday evening (May 9). He wrote: “Shirl girl has flown away, a lark ascending.”

He also thanked the “wonderful doctors and nurses” at St Mary’s Hospital in London for their care of his mother towards the end of her life. Dame Shirley was diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) in her late 30s.

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His Instagram post said: “Shirl girl has flown away, a lark ascending. Thank you to all the wonderful doctors and nurses at St. Mary’s Paddington who looked after her and thank you to all of you kind, dear people who sent her so many beautiful messages that meant so much to her.” Dame Shirley was known for her best-selling books including ‘Superwoman’ and ‘Lace’ and also received a Damehood while in a hospital bed for her services to mathematics education. She founded the Maths Anxiety Trust in 2018 in a bid to improve social mobility for those suffering from mathematic anxiety and raise awareness in the UK.

Dame Shirley Conran, with her son Sebastian. (Credit: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire)Dame Shirley Conran, with her son Sebastian. (Credit: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire)
Dame Shirley Conran, with her son Sebastian. (Credit: Fiona Hanson/PA Wire)

Former Prime Minister Liz Truss, who granted the author her Damehood in her resignation honours in 2023, said in tribute on X (formerly Twitter): “She was a life force, incredibly generous and a dedicated campaigner for maths education. I am very grateful for all the encouragement and support she gave me.” Dame Shirley’s other works include ‘Savages’, ‘Crimson’ and ‘Tiger Eyes’. Author Melanie Blake said: “I am so sad to hear that the legendary #ShirleyConran has passed, so many fabulous books but those who have read #Lace or seen the mini series will know this was one women who knew how to pack one hell of a punch with her [pen].”

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