LONDON -- Jean Plaidy, one of the world's most prolific romance writers, died while taking a holiday on a cruise ship, her literary agent said yesterday.
Ms. Plaidy was very guarded about her private life and never revealed her age but is thought to have been born about 1910.
Her agent, Mark Hamilton of AM Heath, said: "Even I didn't know her real age. She died on a cruise between Athens and Port Said on Monday." He did not give the cause of death.
She also wrote under various other pen names such as Victoria Holt, Philippa Carr, Elbur Ford and Ellalice Tate. She was best known for the Plaidy novels, romantic historical fiction involving kings and queens.
Her "Who's Who" entry is under her married name of Eleanor Hibbert and says only that she was born in London and educated privately. She married George Hibbert, who died in the 1960s. During World War II they lived in Cornwall, where she discovered Plaidy Beach, from which she took her name.
* James Venable, 90, an eccentric lawyer who was imperial wizard of a Ku Klux Klan faction but who sometimes defended black clients in criminal cases, died Monday in an Atlanta nursing home. Mr. Venable's family owned Stone Mountain, the site of the white supremacist KKK's revival in 1915. In 1963, he co-founded the National Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and named himself imperial wizard in a split from the Alabama-based United Klans of America.
* Albert Hourani, 77, a foremost scholar and author on Middle Eastern history, died Sunday in Oxford, England. He lectured at Oxford University from 1958 to 1980. One of the earliest members of St. Antony's College, Oxford, he was instrumental in developing the Middle East Center there and in building its collection of papers on the Middle East. He was named director of the center in 1958. A prolific author, he achieved his greatest success in the United States with "A History of the Arab Peoples," published by Belknap-Harvard University Press in 1991 and a best seller during the Persian Gulf War.
* Rene Pleven, 91, a top official in the Free French movement in World War II who served twice as prime minister in the 1950s, died of heart failure Jan. 13 in Paris. Mr. Pleven, a telephone company executive before the war, began his long political career by taking on some vital missions against the Vichy regime for Charles de Gaulle's exiled forces.
* Dr. Clinton Nathan Woolsey, 88, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, died Jan. 14 at Meriter Hospital in Madison, after a brief illness. His research concerned mapping the brain and exploring the workings of three senses: touch, hearing and vision.
* The Rev. Kent L. Kiser, 77, pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Trenton, N.J., for the last 33 years, died Jan. 15 at his Trenton home. He had a heart attack.