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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 April, 2005, 07:30 GMT 08:30 UK
Poet Darling dies of cancer at 48
Julia Darling
Julia Darling used poetry to help cope with her illness
Award-winning playwright, novelist and poet Julia Darling has lost a battle against cancer at the age of 48.

Ms Darling, a mother of two, was a winner of the prestigious Northern Rock Foundation Writer's Award. She died of breast cancer on Wednesday.

Ms Darling, of Newcastle, was best known for her Booker Prize-longlisted novel The Taxi Driver's Daughter.

In recent years she has run workshops for GPs and hospital staff about using poetry to cope with illness.

First novel

In 2003 she scooped 60,000 when she won the Northern Rock Foundation prize which was set up to nurture writing talent in the north-east of England.

Ms Darling had her first novel Crocodile Soup published in 1998.

She was also a poet in residence for the Guardian and a fellow in healthcare and literature in the English department at Newcastle University.

She once said: "Poetry should be part of every hospital, not just to keep patients amused.

Role model

"The more descriptive language you can use about pain, the better you're going to communicate what's happening, and it means you can control it better."

A tribute from a contributor on her website said: "I wrote to Julia just after my own diagnosis of secondary breast cancer.

"I had come across her weblog and a piece she had written in the Guardian, My Joints are Rusty Cranes.

"After this we exchanged a few e-mails and I was inspired by her spirit and looked on her as a role model as I was desperately trying to not become a cancer 'victim'."


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