Lynne Reid Banks, Author of ‘The Indian in the Cupboard,’ Dies at 94

Lynne Reid Banks, a versatile British author who began her writing career with the best-selling feminist novel “The L-Shaped Room” but found her biggest success with the popular children’s book “The Indian in the Cupboard,” died on Thursday in Surrey, England. She was94.

Her death, at a care facility, was caused by cancer, said James Wills, her literary agent.

Ms. Banks was part of a generation of writers, including Shelagh Delaney and Margaret Drabble, that emerged in postwar Britain and whose books explored the struggles of young women seeking personal and financial independence, in sharp contrast to the contemporaneous “angry young men” literary movement defined by John Osborne and Kingsley Amis.

Over her long career, Ms. Banks’s character portrayals were often called insensitive and her language offensive, particularly in her two best-known works. She was a complicated, sometimes contradictory figure who became increasingly unrepentant about her firmly held opinions.

“The L-Shaped Room” (1960), lauded by critics as a second-wave feminist novel, tells the story of an unmarried secretary whose conservative, middle-class father throws her out of their home when she tells him she’s pregnant. Rather than reach out to the father of the child, she rents a small, L-shaped room at the top of a rooming house in London and becomes part of an improvised family of fellow boarders, including a Caribbean-born jazz musician. Class, race, sexism and the danger of illegal abortions are all central to the plot.

Ms. Banks didn’t consider herself a feminist when she wrote the book; as a young woman coming of age in the 1950s, she said, she thought that men were superior.

But she soon changed her mind. “What a joke,” she told the BBC’s program “Bookclub” in 2010. “I mean, I don’t believe that anymore. I think women are infinitely the superior sex and that men are probably the most dangerous creatures on the planet.”

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