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Author of "Gone with Wind' sequel dies at 70

Alexandra Ripley, the prolific historical fiction writer best known for Scarlett, the official sequel to Gone With the Wind, has died. She was 70.

Ripley died of natural causes Jan. 10 at her Richmond home, her daughter, Elizabeth Lyon Ripley, said Sunday.

The estate of Gone With the Wind author Margaret Mitchell picked Ripley to write Scarlett. The 1991 novel was met by lackluster reviews, but ended up a best seller.

Ripley had always wanted to be a writer, but "didn't get up the nerve" until after she had worked at several publishing houses, writing catalog and flap copy for books that had been accepted for publication, said the author's friend and former publicist, Lynn Goldberg.

Her first novel, Who's That Lady in the President's Bed? was published in 1972 under the pseudonym B.K. Ripley.

Ripley's Charleston became the first of the historical novels for which she was best known. It was followed by books including On Leaving Charleston, The Time Returns and A Love Divine.

Part of Ripley's charm was her whole-hearted enjoyment of life, Goldberg said. She would regale her friends with stories about her adventures and misadventures with self-deprecating humor, she said.

"Her recollections were the stuff of novels," Goldberg said. "She often said that if it hadn't happened to her, she wouldn't believe it, either."

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