Heartfelt tributes have been paid by family, friends and fellow writers to the bestselling author Emma Hannigan, who died on Saturday in Blackrock Clinic, Dublin, after an 11-year battle with breast cancer. She was 45, and is survived by her husband Cian, children Sacha and Kim, parents Philip and Denise, brother Timmy and sister-in-law Hilary.
Her agent Sheila Crowley said: “When I first met Emma eight years ago, I was struck by how vulnerable and fragile she looked, having just finished one of her many courses of chemotherapy. She was with her father Philip, who is her business manager, and I very soon discovered how strong Emma was throughout her life. Her determination to fight everything that was thrown at her is well documented and even in private conversations with me, she never complained.
“What saddens me most is we are just cracking the UK market for Emma’s books. She and I wanted her stories to be #1 throughout the world and her indomitable spirit will urge us on in this mission. Her wonderful memoir, Talk to the Headscarf (updated last summer to All to Live For), as well as her many novels will keep her vital memory alive for many years to come. The memoir was something I suggested she wrote, and it is the most wonderful source of information for anyone diagnosed with cancer. I am delighted both it and her new novel, Letters to my Daughters, are in the bestseller list.”
Her publishers Hachette Books Ireland and Headline issued this statement:
“It is with deep sadness that we learn that our beloved author and friend Emma Hannigan has passed away. Our thoughts are with her family at this sad time.
“We had the immense pleasure and privilege of working with Emma through these past years, publishing both her fiction and non-fiction, and her courage, her generosity of spirit, and her love enveloped us all.
“Emma’s writing carried her through tough times. It allowed her an escape and, in turn, she created vibrant, colourful worlds to which her readers could escape – and her talent, imagination, her unique warmth and humour is evident on each and every page of her novels. Emma loved every aspect of being an author: from meeting booksellers and baking treats for them on signing tours, to the friendships she had with fellow authors, to creating brilliantly colourful stories and characters and, of course, she loved her readers. She would often share positive emails with us ‘her team’ because that was Emma: selfless and always wishing to share her success and happiness. Emma Hannigan will be greatly missed for her stories, for her voice as an author, and as a friend.”
The last time I spoke to Emma Hannigan was at an author event. Knowing that she’d recently had treatment for her cancer, I asked how she was. Her reply was ‘all good considering’. I wished her well and then we turned our discussion to the subject at hand – writing. She was editing her latest novel, I was just starting mine. We talked about characters and plot and how sometimes everything went so well and others it was like pulling teeth. Her illness may have spurred Emma to write, but it never defined her. To me, and to many of the other Irish authors, she was simply another member of our tribe. And although she was a tireless campaigner for the cause of breast cancer, it will always be as a writer, bringing her characters and her stories so vividly to life, that I will remember her.
Emma Hannigan’s funeral service rakes place in Our Lady of Perpetual Succour Church, Foxrock, Dublin 18, on Wednesday, March 7th, at 11.30am, followed by burial in Shanganagh Cemetery, Shankill. Family flowers only. Please donate to Breast Cancer Ireland. Text CURE to 50300.