Rosamunde Pilcher, the best-selling author of the family saga The Shell Seekers, has died aged 94.
Her son, author Robin Pilcher, told the Guardian newspaper Pilcher died after a stroke on Sunday night following a bout of bronchitis over New Year.
He said: “She had been in great form up until Christmas, then suffered from bronchitis in the new year, but was always expected to bounce back as before.
“However, she suffered a stroke on Sunday night and never regained consciousness.”
He added that she was “a wonderful, rather alternative-thinking mother, I think she might have liked the description Bohemian, who touched and influenced the lives of many of all ages, not only through her writing but through personal friendships”.
Pilcher was prolific but found fame only in later life.
The Shell Seekers was published in 1987 when she was 63.
It followed a family from the Second World War to the present day, and was set between Cornwall and London.
The novel told the story of an artist’s elderly daughter, Penelope Keeling, who discovers one of her father’s paintings is worth a substantial sum of money.
The book sold more than 10 million copies and was adapted a number of times.
In 1989 Angela Lansbury played Keeling in an Emmy-nominated television film of the book in the Hallmark Hall Of Fame anthology series.
More recently, Vanessa Redgrave played the protagonist in a 2006 mini-series.