Author and screenwriter Fay Weldon has died at the age of 91.

During a long literary career she wrote sharp, funny, feminist-inflected screenplays and novels including The Life and Loves of A She Devil which was turned into a hit TV drama about a woman seeking revenge on her cheating husband.

She was born Franklin Birkinshaw in Birmingham, and raised in Christchurch New Zealand where her father worked as a doctor and mother Margaret wrote novels.

Her parents divorced when she was five and her mother moved back to Hampstead in 1946 with her two daughters, and worked as a housekeeper. Ham & High: During her long career Fay Weldon wrote numerous novels and TV screenplaysDuring her long career Fay Weldon wrote numerous novels and TV screenplays (Image: Newsquest archive)

A 15-year-old Fay won a scholarship to South Hampstead High School in Belsize Park and once told the Ham&High that while she did well academically, the girls were also encouraged to strive for awards for 'deportment'.

After studying psychology and economics at The University of St Andrew's she returned to London and got a job as a clerk at the Foreign Office but had to leave when she became pregnant with her son Nicholas.

During a brief failed marriage to an older man, she famously worked at an advertising agency, publicising the slogan Go to Work on an Egg and the less successful 'Vodka gets you Drunker Quicker'.

In the early 60s she married jazz player and antiques dealer Ron Weldon and until the mid 70s they lived at No 3 Chalcot Crescent, Primrose Hill where they used to get mail for Ted and Sylvia Hughes who had lived at 3 Chalcot Square before moving to Devon.

During that time Weldon had three sons and began a writing career; first TV and radio drama - including the first episode of Upstairs Downstairs  -  then her first novel; The Fat Woman's Joke, in 1967.

In 2009 she recalled in an interview with the Ham&High writing 'The End' while sitting on the No 11 bus "it was exhilarating to realise I could go on like this forever.”Ham & High: Fay Weldon lived in Chalcot Crescent and Greenaway Gardens HampsteadFay Weldon lived in Chalcot Crescent and Greenaway Gardens Hampstead (Image: Courtesy of University of East Anglia)

She added: “When I lived there it was still full of railway workers and porters. It was a real neighbourhood, the most perfect place to live. There were hardly any cars so the children used to play on the hill and come home when they felt like it.”

Juggling work, motherhood and writing at a time of emerging feminist consciousness could be a strain: “I remember one day I had been down to buy shopping and realised I was going to have to trail all the way up to Chalcot Crescent with it and I thought ‘why am I doing this when they will only eat it?’ so I put it on the ground and walked off."

She would rise early to write before the children woke, or even book herself into the Holiday Inn in Swiss Cottage to work while they swam.

Weldon's novels such as Down Among the Women and Female Friends fed a desire for books that put women's complicated lives at their centre. She married poet Nick Fox in 1994 and lived in Greenaway Gardens, Hampstead before moving back to Dorset in the early noughties.

She complained that the speedbumps, parking restrictions, and dearth of community in Hampstead had driven her away from north London.

“I found it incredibly lonely living in Greenaway Gardens, the houses are full of Americans and Russian oligarchs who didn't live there and would fly in for a party, and no-one ever came out except Filipino maids."

But confessing "I am a north London person at heart," she returned every six weeks to have her hair done in Primrose Hill, and often set her novels there, including 2009 dystopian near future novel Chalcot Crescent, 2008's The Stepmother's Diary, and 2005's She May Not Leave.

Eccentric, shrewd, outspoken, and gossipy, Weldon told the Ham&High in 2009 that she suffered from "identity problems".

“Writing is a compulsion for me, it feels very odd if I am not doing it. It’s not an escape because it becomes more real than the real world, you are forever in other people’s worlds not your own, and you quite forget what your own’s like."