Fay Weldon was a British novelist, journalist, screenwriter, and playwright. Her most famous works include Puffball (1980), The Life and Loves of a She-Devil (1983), and The Heart of the Country (1987). Weldon was a Commander of the British Empire, having been awarded a CBE for her contributions to arts and letters, and she's received several honorary doctorates.
Fay Weldon was born Franklin Birkinshaw to a literary family in Birmingham. Her maternal grandfather, Edgar Jepson, her uncle Selwyn Jepson and her mother, Margaret Jepson, wrote novels.
Weldon grew up in New Zealand, where her father, Frank Thornton Birkinshaw, worked as a doctor.
At 15, Weldon returned to England with her mother and sister. Fay won a scholarship to the all-girls South Hampstead High School before enrolling in Psychology and Economics at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. She completed her Master of Arts in 1952 and moved to London, where she worked as a clerk at the Foreign Office for a salary of £6 a week.
Weldon began her writing career in the 1960s as a copywriter in advertising.
In 1967, Weldon published her first novel, The Fat Woman's Joke, which gained critical acclaim and launched her career as a successful novelist. She later became a scriptwriter for television, writing for popular shows.
In 1971 Weldon wrote the first episode of the landmark television series Upstairs, Downstairs, for which she won a Writers Guild award for Best British TV Series Script. The Huffington Post subsequently called it "the classic Masterpiece Theatre legacy of British dramas."
She has since written over 30 novels, including Puffball, The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, and The Heart of the Country, as well as numerous collections of short stories.
In her fiction, Weldon typically portrays contemporary women who find themselves trapped in oppressive situations caused by the patriarchal structure of British society.
Fay Weldon identified herself as a feminist and intentionally represented "unattractive" and "overweight" women in her work. She aims to give a voice to women often ignored or marginalized by the media. The pervasive sexism Weldon witnessed in the TV industry during her career solidified her commitment to feminism.
In 2002, when Fay Weldon was 70, she wrote an autobiography called Auto Da Fay about her early life.
Fay Weldon died at a care home in Northampton close to family and friends at the age of 91.
Photo credit: fayweldon.co.uk