The death has been announced of the Northern Irish-born author Lucinda Riley, author of many bestselling books including the Seven Sisters series.

More than 30 million copies of her books have been sold worldwide.

Born in Lisburn in 1966, Ms Riley moved to London in her teens to study drama, but later turned to writing, publishing her first novel in 1992.

Her books went on to become number one bestsellers all over the world.

In a statement addressed to Ms Riley's friends and readers, her family said: "We are so sorry to have to tell you that Lucinda died peacefully this morning, surrounded by her family, who were so important to her.

"We realise that this will be a terrible shock for most people, who won’t have been aware that Lucinda had been battling cancer for four years."

"Lucinda touched the lives of all those she met, and those who turned the pages of her stories. She radiated love and kindness in everything she did, and will continue to inspire us all forever," her family said.

"Above all, Lucinda loved life, and lived every moment to the full," the family added.

Ms Riley's publisher described working with her as "an immense and very rare privilege".

"Lucinda had an enormous capacity for fun, friendship and love and I was honoured to call her a friend. I, and the whole team at Pan Mac, are so thankful to have been given the opportunity to go on this journey with her," said Jeremy Trevathan, Managing Director of Pan Macmillan's Adult Publishing Division.

"I am going to miss her terribly and I know many of my colleagues here and around the world will do so too," he said.

Her family added: "In her own words: 'Through the pain and the joy of the journey, I have learnt the most important lesson life can offer, and I am glad of it. The moment is all we have'."