Jackie Collins, 1937 – 2015

Bestselling author Jackie Collins, who in 2013 was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to fiction and charity, died on Saturday of breast cancer.  She was 77.


Ms. Collins wrote hugely popular romance novels depicting the glamour and debauchery of high society Hollywood.  She wrote 32 novels, all of which appeared on The New York Times Bestseller list, starting with her first book, The World is Full of Married Men, in 1968.  Her final book, published last year, was a cookbook named after one of her literary characters:  The Lucky Santangelo Cookbook.  All in all, her books have sold over 500 million copies, and have been translated into over 40 languages.

While the public loved her tales of explicit sex, material excess and scandal, critics were less kind.  Fellow romance novelist Barbara Cartland called her writing “nasty, filthy and disgusting”; the prominent British newspaper calls her “Queen of the Bonkbusters”.  Many of her books have been banned due to their explicit nature.  But Ms. Collins didn’t care about critical acclaim.  “I never pretended to be a literary writer,” she said in a 2007 interview. “I’m a school dropout.”

Indeed, she was expelled from public school at age 15, and never looked back.  Along with being a writer, she also spent a brief time as a singer, and had appeared in a series of B movies as well as a few television appearances.  In the 1970s, she tried her hand at screenwriting, but her novels were what truly brought her fame.

Ms. Collins was married twice, first to business man Wallace Austin (which ended in divorce after four years) and then to art gallery and nightclub owner Oscar Lerman, who died in 1992 from prostate cancer.  Ms. Collins has three children; Tracy, from her first marriage, and Tiffany and Rory from her marriage to Mr. Lerman.  Her younger sister, Joan Collins, is a well known actress who also has written a number of books, both fiction and non-fiction.

The family of Jackie Collins issued this statement on her passing:  She lived a wonderfully full life and was adored by her family, friends and the millions of readers who she has been entertaining for over four decades. She was a true inspiration, a trail blazer for women in fiction and a creative force. She will live on through her characters but we already miss her beyond words.

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