Richard Eden: How acclaimed novelist Fay Weldon left her sons just £210,000 after she died aged 91 despite her commercial success
She glossed over the depredations she endured in her early youth – including being a tenant of slum landlord Peter Rachman – becoming an acclaimed novelist whose most famous work, The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, has been dramatized for both a television series and The big screen, starring Meryl Streep and Roseanne Barr.
Yet, despite greater commercial success – three more of her books were adapted for television – the brilliant, inimitable Fay Weldon, who died in January aged 91, left just £210,000, I can reveal.
According to newly released probate documents, there was no will for friends and extended family – such as his second cousin, Fawlty Towers star Prunella Scales. Instead, almost everything was bequeathed to her three surviving sons, Nick, Daniel and Sam, and the children and step-daughter of her son Tom, whose death in 2019 caused her intense grief.
Curiously, the will Fey signed in February 2020 also mentions her third and last husband Nick Fox, whom she accused of ‘coercive control and financial mismanagement’ just eight months later. These were the reasons, she explained in an email to friends, that she was divorcing him.
But the will stipulated that her trustees – sons Nick and Daniel – would ensure that the 1840s house in Dorset, where she and Fox lived, would remain in trust for her for life.
Novelist: The brilliant, inimitable Fay Weldon, who died in January aged 91, left just £210,000, I can reveal
Divorced: Fey and Nick Fox, whom he accused of ‘coercive control and financial mismanagement’
As things turned out, it was sold during their divorce proceedings, as Fox explained. ‘His family went to the judge for a verdict. Both parties have to pay for it,’ he told me, adding that the ruling was that the proceeds of the sale of the house were to be ‘split down the middle’.
He added: ‘I put his name on my house, which I inherited, so he could protect his debts.’
Fox met Weldon when he was 45 and she was 60. They married in 1994 and seemed happy. Indeed, they were, says Fox, ‘until five years ago. She was on hormone replacement therapy for 36 years – and they suddenly took her off. He has become a different personality.’
Fox strongly denied the claims, calling the allegations ‘a scandal’.