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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 March, 2005, 05:32 GMT
Novelist Alice Thomas Ellis dies
Alice Thomas Ellis, the novelist, editor and columnist, has died from cancer aged 72.

Thomas Ellis - real name Anna Haycraft - wrote more than 20 books altogether, including The 27th Kingdom, which was shortlisted for the 1982 Booker Prize.

Her first novel, The Sin Eater, was published in 1977 and her last book, Fish, Flesh and Good Red Herring - serialised on BBC Radio 4 - in 2004.

For several years, she wrote a column, Home Life, for The Spectator magazine.

BBC serial

The Liverpool-born author has also written columns for the Oldie and the Catholic Herald.

Thomas Ellis converted to Roman Catholicism in her late teens, and her faith was a powerful influence in her work, which she once described as an attack on the permissiveness of the 1960s.

She was deeply affected by the death of her son Joshua in an accident in 1978.

She began her literary career as the fiction editor of her husband Colin Haycraft's publishing firm Duckworth's, encouraging many other writers including Beryl Bainbridge.

Bainbridge told the Daily Telegraph on Thursday that she owed "an enormous amount" to her long-time editor.

"One of the first things she said was, 'I've read two of your books. They are pretty awful but have you got a third?' She was my editor for the next 25 years."

Thomas Ellis is survived by four sons and a daughter.

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