Peter Mayle, author of A Year in Provence, dies age 78

Peter Mayle, the British author of the much-loved bestseller A Year in Provence , has died near his home in the South of France, aged 78, after a short illness.

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The news was confirmed on Twitter by the author’s publisher, Alfred A. Knopf, this Thursday, along with a photo of the late Mayle.

Born in 1939, and a former advertising executive before becoming a writer, Mayle was arguably best-known for the 1989 book A Year in Provence, which chronicled his move from Devon to the Luberon in France over 30 years ago.

The book became a near-instant bestseller, and went on to sell over a million copies in the UK and six million across the world.

It was later turned into a UK TV show in 1993, although in a 2009 interview with The Connexion, Mayle admitted to being “disappointed with the way [the show] turned out”.

He said: “It came across as a story about retirement which was a long way from the truth. And [the actor] John Thaw, who played me, seemed to be in a perpetually bad mood, whereas I was absolutely delighted with my new life in France.”

Over 20 years’ after the book’s publication, Mayle still felt enthusiastic about Provence - despite the rush of fans and even paparazzi that had followed him after the book’s success - saying the region had “added a dimension of sheer contentment and enrichment” to his life.

He added: “I have lived at various times in London, New York, Devon, Barbados and the Bahamas. For me nothing comes close to Provence.”

Mayle was well-received in his adopted home too, receiving the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur award in 2002, for contributions to French culture.

Mayle wrote many other books, including Toujours Provence, and Encore Provence, as well as 2004’s A Good Year, the latter of which was made into a film in 2006, starring Australian actor Russell Crowe and French favourite Marion Cotillard.

Although he also wrote children’s books, and a number of educational works, Mayle’s most recent work formed the “Caper” quartet novels, comprising The Vintage Caper, The Corsican Caper, The Marseille Caper and The Diamond Caper.

The movie director Sir Ridley Scott has already paid tribute to his late friend, speaking on the Today programme on the UK’s BBC Radio 4.

Mayle really "captured the silence of Provence, which is wonderful, the fragrance, smell, lavender in the countryside”, said Scott. "It was all that humorous competitive spirit between the French and the English that Peter captured brilliantly."

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