Tributes to Joan Lingard, author of the Kevin and Sadie book series, after her death at the age of 90

The author of a series of young adult books set during the Troubles – beginning on July 12 – died on the date the book is named after, his family has confirmed.

Joan Lingard, who wrote the popular Kevin and Sadie series about love across the northern sectarian divide, died on Tuesday at the age of 90.

The award-winning Scottish-born writer moved north aged two and wrote almost 60 novels over a five-decade career.

She was best known to younger readers as the author of The Twelfth of July and its sequels, which tell the story of Protestant Sadie Jackson and Catholic Kevin McCoy, and their romance against the odds.

First published in 1970, the first book in what would become the Kevin and Sadie series is familiar to a generation of young readers in the North and beyond. The series focused on connection across cultural and religious divides – a theme that would be prominent in many of Ms. Lingard’s books throughout her career.

The first sequel to the five-book series was 1972’s Across the Barricades. Her original manuscript was exhibited last year at the Linenhall Library in Belfast as part of the ‘extraORDINARYwomen’ project focusing on women’s experiences during the Troubles.

Kevin and Sadie’s books were published by Penguin, and Francesca Dow, managing director of Penguin Random House, said Ms Lingard was “an incredible writer who told us some of the most important stories of her time”.

She added: “For her young adult titles on our list, Kevin and Sadie’s books are essential reading. A love story set during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the emotions she shared, the situation she described so vividly still resonate with young people today.”

A statement from her family said the author was initially asked not to write the series, due to the political unrest at the start of the Troubles era.

“Her literary agent at the time thought that the sectarian unrest which had resulted in so much bloodshed and outrage made the idea distasteful; she could not imagine any publisher seeing any merit in the idea, or that a young person is interested in such novels,” the family said. said the spokesperson.

“But Joan Lingard was determined – she had a story she wanted readers to share and a cast of characters she loved. The novel could only be set in Northern Ireland. She was right of course. Generations young readers were fascinated by the story of these two teenagers growing up on opposite sides of the sectarian divide.”

Among her many awards, Ms Lingard received an MBE for services to children’s literature in 1999. She is survived by her husband, three daughters, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

Lola R. McClure