LONDON (AP) _ British author John Fowles, whose works include ``The French Lieutenant's Woman'' and ``The Collector'' has died. He was 79.
Fowles died Saturday at his home in Lyme Regis, Dorset, southwest England, after a long illness, according to his publisher Random House. The publisher said Fowles' wife, Sarah, was by his side at the time of his death.
Fowles' writing career spanned more than 40 years and his most famous work _ ``The French Lieutenant's Woman'' was made into the Oscar-nominated film starring Meryl Streep and Jeremy Irons. He also wrote ``The Magus.''
A former teacher, Fowles' first novel ``The Collector'' _ about a butterfly collector's obsession with a young woman _ was published in 1963, becoming an immediate best-seller. It was made into a film in 1965.
The ``French Lieutenant's Woman,'' published in 1969 was the most commercially successful of Fowles' novels. Other novels include ``Daniel Martin,'' ``Mantissa'' and ``A Maggot.'' He also wrote a collection of short stories, poetry and works of nonfiction.
Fowles, who suffered a stroke in 1988 and suffered heart problems, was fiercely private and lived a reclusive life.
The author hated the fame that accompanied his success and complained of feeling persecuted by his readers.
``They want to see you and talk to you. And they don't realize that very often that gets on one's nerves,'' he once said.
Fowles was born in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, in eastern England in 1926.
He attended Bedford School, a boarding school, and Edinburgh University before entering into compulsory military service from 1945 to 1947.
After the war Fowles gained a French degree at Oxford University and began a career as a teacher. One teaching post took him to a college on the Greek island of Spetsai, an experience that provided inspiration for ``The Magus.''