Novelist and campaigner Dame Shirley Conran dies aged 91

Author Dame Shirley Conran after receiving an OBE for services to equal opportunities from the Prince of Wale
[PA Media]

British author and journalist Dame Shirley Conran has died aged 91, days after receiving her damehood.

Writing on Instagram, her designer son Jasper Conran said his mother passed away as he praised doctors and staff at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington.

"Shirl girl has flown away, a lark ascending," Mr Conran wrote.

Former Prime Minister Liz Truss, who made the author a dame in her resignation honours list, described Dame Shirley as "life force".

Known for her best-selling books including Superwoman and Lace, she received her damehood last week for her services to mathematics education, having founded the Maths Anxiety Trust.

British author and journalist Shirley Conran, left, stands with her son British designer Jasper Conran, whilst attending Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake's exhibition 'Bodyworks' at the Boilerhouse project in the Victoria & Albert Museum
Dame Shirley's designer son Jasper paid tribute to his mother [Getty Images]

Dame Shirley began writing books after she was diagnosed with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) in her late 30s and could no longer work full-time.

In 1975, she wrote acclaimed non-fiction book Superwoman, recognised as a feminist practical guidebook.

Dame Shirley's first novel titled Lace was published in 1982 and later turned into a TV miniseries in the US starring Bess Armstrong, Brooke Adams and Arielle Dombasle.

Her other novels include Savages, Crimson and Tiger Eyes.

Writing on Twitter, Ms Truss posted: "She was a life force, incredibly generous and a dedicated campaigner for maths education.

"I am very grateful for all the encouragement and support she gave me."

Last week Sir Kenneth Olisa, the Lord Lieutenant of Greater London, presented Dame Shirley with the honour in hospital.

Sharing two pictures from the ceremony, he wrote on social media: "Yesterday Imperial NHS, surrounded by her family and staff of the Manvers Acute Respiratory Unit I was privileged, on behalf of His Majesty, to invest Dame Shirley Conran as a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to Mathematics Education."