novelist and biographer, born in Carlisle, educated at Somerville College, Oxford. Her first novel, Dames' Delight (1964), was followed by the highly successful Georgy Girl (1965, film script with P. Nichols 1966), about a large and awkward young woman who wins unexpected admiration. Several comedies of contemporary life and manners followed. She reached a new plane with later works, such as Mother Can You Hear Me? (1979), a sombre evocation of motherhood, portrayed through the intense but painful cross‐generation connections between a working‐class, dying mother, living in the West Country, her London‐based schoolteacher daughter, and her granddaughter. Have the Men Had Enough? (1989) is an even more painful account of old age and senile dementia. Later novels include The Memory Box (1999), Diary of an Ordinary Woman (2003), and Is There Anything You Want? (2005). Non‐fiction works include an ‘autobiography’ of Thackeray (1978), and lives of E. B. Browning (1988) and D. du Maurier (1993). Hidden Lives (1995) and Precious Lives (1998) are poignant family memoirs. She is married to the author and journalist Hunter Davies.