By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN — As she approaches her 60th birthday, best-selling author and journalist M’ve Binchy has pledged to take it easy and start her own style of retirement with no more newspaper columns or novels.
A publishing phenomenon who has become a multi-millionaire with 15 books topping bestseller lists around the world and another on the way in the summer, Binchy says her departure is not "definitive."
She signed off her last Saturday column in the Irish Times last weekend after 32 years saying she was writing in a room "full of guilt" because of the many things she still has to do.
She is leaving the door open to an occasional column if she has something "burning" to say and there are plenty of short stories already written that can appear from time to time in "tasteful" collections.
She doesn’t believe she will have regrets and find herself at a loose end.
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"I do not believe that people get sluggish and brain dead and go around in their dressing gowns when they retire," she wrote. "I think they get better.
"Some of my best role models and the happiest people I know are those who have retired and cannot find enough hours in the day to do the things they like doing.
"They are free from guilt and fuss and are very restful without having actually gone to sleep. I’ve been looking at them wistfully for about six months now."
After teaching for most her 20s, Binchy joined the Irish Times as a reporter at the age of 28.
She modestly describes her novels as "mainly airport novels" and says she was never more surprised than when she received honorary doctorates from UCD and Belfast’s Queen’s University.
A survey of the best-sellers of the last 50 years by the Eason’s bookshop underlined her huge popularity. She not only topped the list but also had six more in the top 20 at third, fourth, 11th, 15th, 16th and 17th. Another book was listed at 47.
In a UK survey to mark World Book Day last month, she was voted Britain’s six favorite author, beating Jane Austen, Charles Dickens and William Shakespeare.
She is also a huge success in America where sales have been boosted by the choice of a novel as book of the month on the Oprah Winfrey show and Barbara Bush saying she was her favorite writer and inviting her to the White House for tea.
The books are available in Hebrew and Korean and have
sold about 2.5 million copies worldwide.
Binchy spent 111 days outside the country last year promoting books and is dying to go away for a trip with her husband, children’s author Gordon Snell, without her laptop computer.
Her fans will be hoping her "retirement" will be just the first of many.