Maeve Binchy, Author of Circle of Friends, Dies at 72

07/31/2012 at 11:00 AM EDT

Maeve Binchy, Irish Author of Circle of Friends, Dies at 72
Maeve Binchy
Mark Doyle/Splash News Online
Maeve Binchy, the popular Irish author who sold more than 40 million books worldwide and penned Circle of Friends, has died after a brief illness, reports BBC News. She was 72.

During her illustrious career, Binchy wrote 16 novels, four collections of short stories, a play and a novella.

Her books, which have been featured on The New York Times bestseller list and as part of Oprah's Book Club, have been translated into 37 languages.

In 1995, Minnie Driver and Chris O'Donnell starred in the film version of Circle of Friends, a tale of college students set in 1950s Ireland.

In 2005, Andie MacDowell and Olivia Williams brought Binchy's characters to life when Binchy's Tara Road was made into a feature film.

"We have lost a national treasure," Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said in a statement.

Binchy is survived by her husband Gordon Snell, her brother William and her sister, Joan.

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