A famous author who was educated at Godolphin School has been given a damehood in New Year Honours list.

Author Jilly Cooper told PA News that she is “incredibly bowled over” by the recognition. 

The 86-year-old author and journalist of steamy fiction was honoured for services to literature and to charity.

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Salisbury Journal: Dame Jilly CooperDame Jilly Cooper (Image: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire)

Born in Hornchurch, Essex in 1937, Dame Jilly grew up in Yorkshire and attended the private Godolphin School in Salisbury.

Her father was a brigadier and her family moved to London in the 1950s where she became a reporter on The Middlesex Independent when she was 20.

She has said she moved to public relations and was sacked from 22 jobs before ending up in book publishing.

She is chiefly known for her Rutshire Chronicles, which focus on scandal and adultery in upper class society and an aristocratic character called Rupert Campbell-Black.

The series has seen a string of bestsellers with titles such as Riders, Rivals, Polo, Mount! and The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous along with her most recent work, 2023’s Tackle!.

Dame Jilly said in a statement to the PA news agency: “I am absolutely and incredibly bowled over. I cannot believe I am a DBE, which in my case also stands for Delighted, Bewildered and Ecstatic!”.

She can also count the Prime Minister among her fans with Rishi Sunak confirming to ITV’s This Morning in May that he was a fan of the chronicles, set in the fictional county of Rutshire.

Her work has been adapted at various points with Coronation Street star Stephen Billington and Downtown Abbey actor Hugh Bonneville appearing in an ITV adaption of The Man Who Made Husbands Jealous and Marcus Gilbert starring in a Riders series during the 1990s.

A Disney+ series, based on Rivals and featuring British actor Alex Hassell as Rupert, will also star David Tennant, Aidan Turner, Emily Atack and Danny Dyer, and is currently in production.

Dame Jilly’s first novel in the series, Riders, published in 1985, also made the BBC list of 100 important English language novels in the love, sex and romance selection alongside Jane Austen’s Pride And Prejudice.

Her books have sold over 11 million copies in the UK, according to her website.

She became an CBE for services to literature and charity during the 2018 New Year Honours.

When she received a previous honour from Buckingham Palace in 2004, she said she nearly fainted when she was told about the OBE for her services to literature.

In 2009, Gloucestershire University awarded her an honorary doctorate for services to literature and the county and 10 years later she received the first Comedy Women In Print (CWIP) lifetime achievement award.