Lynne Reid Banks, author of The Indian in the Cupboard, dies aged 94 | Books

Lynne Reid Banks, author of The Indian in the Cupboard, dies aged 94 | Books

The author Lynne Reid Banks has died at the age of 94.

Known for books such as the children’s story The Indian in the Cupboard, she died of cancer “peacefully with her family around her” on Thursday afternoon, her agent, James Wills, said.

Her son Gillon Stephenson said she “leaves a massive legacy of wonderful work”, adding that every day he “receives messages from people saying what a difference she has made”.

The author was born in Barnes, south-west London, in 1929. She was evacuated with her mother and cousin Christopher in 1940 during the second world war to Saskatoon in the Canadian prairies for five years.

After returning to England, Reid Banks attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (Rada) before becoming a secretary and a freelance journalist.

In 1955, she became one of the first female news reporters on British TV, appearing on ITN for six years where she interviewed stars including Charlie Chaplin, Audrey Hepburn, Rita Hayworth, Louis Armstrong and Agatha Christie.

During her downtime from journalism she wrote a novel, The L-Shaped Room, which was an unexpected hit and was later turned into a film, landing Leslie Caron an Oscar nomination for best actress, as well as a Bafta and Golden Globe award.

Caron played a young woman who is planning to have an abortion, but later rejects the idea, and rents an odd room in a boarding house where she falls in love with an aspiring actor.

In 1962, Reid Banks emigrated to Israel after meeting the Liverpool-born sculptor Chaim Stephenson, whom she later married. They had three sons.

Returning to England in 1971, Reid Banks said she “stumbled upon the idea of bringing a toy plastic American Indian to life in a magic cupboard” for a children’s book.

The first book from the series was released in 1980. A fantasy story about a boy whose toy magically comes to life, it was turned into a film in 1995 starring Steve Coogan and Richard Jenkins.

She wrote many children’s stories during her career, including The Red Red Dragon, Tiger Tiger, Angela and Diabola and the picture book The Spice Rack.

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