Peter Mayle, "an Englishman who started a writing career in his 30s with sex-education books for children before making a spectacularly successful switch to the travel memoir genre with A Year in Provence," died January 18, the New York Times reported. He was 78. Knopf has published Mayle's books since A Year in Provence was released in the U.S. in 1990. His most recent book, The Diamond Caper, was released in 2015.
In 1987, Mayle and his wife, Jennie, moved to the village of Ménerbes in Provence. Although he had planned to write a novel, "with renovations to the 18th-century stone farmhouse they had bought in full swing, he kept getting distracted. His agent finally told him to shelve the novel and write about the distractions," the Times noted. The book's British publisher, Hamish Hamilton, ordered only 3,000 copies, but the book "just kept selling, reaching the million-copy mark in England and 600,000 in the United States." It was adapted into a TV miniseries starring John Thaw and Lindsay Duncan.
Mayle's books include a sequel, Toujours Provence, as well as Encore Provence, A Good Year, A Dog's Life, Hotel Pastis, Acquired Tastes, The Marseille Caper, and The Corsican Caper, along with the children's titles Where Did I Come From? and What's Happening to Me?. In 2002, he was honored as a Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur for his contributions to French culture.