Rosamunde Pilcher, author of The Shell Seekers, has died at the age of 94 following a short illness, her agent has confirmed.
The novelist penned nearly 30 romance and women’s fiction books between 1949 and 2000 when she retired from writing.
Born on the north coast of Cornwall, Pilcher began writing at the age of seven and published her first short story at 18.
She once described her books as “frightfully wet little novels”.
When she began writing for Mills & Boon in the late 1940s, her stories were published under the pseudonym Jane Fraser.
Her first novel as Rosamunde Pilcher, A Secret to Tell, was published in 1955.
The Shell Seekers, considered one of her most famous works, was published in 1988.
It centres on Penelope Keeling, an elderly British woman who reflects on her life and her relationships with her adult children.
The book won her international recognition, becoming one of her biggest successes and selling more than five million copies worldwide.
In 1989 it became the best-selling book in America, the same year Angela Lansbury starred in a TV adaptation.
By the mid 1990s, it was reported that Pilcher was one of the highest-earning women in Britain.
In 2003 The Shell Seekers was nominated by the British public as one of the top 100 novels in the BBC’s Big Read.
It was also adapted into a stage play in 2005 and a mini-series starring Vanessa Redgrave in 2006.
Pilcher’s novels and short stories are especially popular in Germany, where the national TV station ZDF has adapted her works into more than 100 films.
The author’s romanticised outlook on Cornwall became a fixture in German pop culture and led to many German tourists visiting the British coast to experience the quaint and quintessentially British world Pilcher had created.
This led her to winning a British Tourism Award in 2002.