Clare Francis

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Image: ©︎ Clare Francis

Clare Mary Francis MBE is a British author, former sailor, and advocate for people with myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME).[1][2][3]

Sailing and early years[edit | edit source]

Clare Francis was often ill as a child, and took up ballet to gain strength. She won a place at the prestigious Royal Ballet School at age twelve, which she attended until she was 17.[4]

Ms Francis became famous as a yatchswoman after a solo, unsponsored voyage across the Atlantic, and competing in a number of races. She set a new women's record in the Observer Single-Handed Transatlantic Race in 1976, and in 1977/78 she was the first woman to skipper a yacht in the Whitbread Round the World Race, finishing in fifth place.[4] She then began for career as a writer.[3]

Myalgic Encephalomyelitis[edit | edit source]

Clare Francis became ill with myalgic encephalomyelitis in the 1986, describing it as a "living death".[1][4]

When she began speaking publicly about having ME, the disease was commonly referred to using the derogatory term "yuppie flu".[1] She has suffered from ME for many years.[5]

"I've been to hell and back"

Though she thought she had come down with the flu, she nevertheless decided to take her daily jog. But less than a block from her home, she collapsed in the street.
My legs just buckled under me, she explained. "I managed to drag myself home, crawled into bed, and stayed there — for two months.
My limbs felt like lead. I became so weak I couldn't climb the stairs, walk around the room or even brush my hair.
Playing with my 9-year-old son was totally impossible.
I felt as though I was in a fog. I couldn't even speak properly.
I suffered agonizing stomach pains, depression and chronic exhaustion.―Clare Francis
A string of doctors and "experts" brought her no help and no cure. Finally, she read a newspaper story about ME and recognized the symptoms immediately.

Interview with Rose Grady, Weekly World News, 1988[1]

Writing[edit | edit source]

Ms Francis published three non-fiction books about sailing, then moved into writing fiction. While suffering from her worst period of ME, Ms Francis struggled even to speak, she spent four years with symptoms severe enough to interfere with both writing and raising her son.[1]

Francis went on to write both non-fiction and fiction books.[6] The thriller Night Sky, which she had published in 1983, became an international bestseller. Ms Francis' myriad achievements have earned her an MBE.

Charity work[edit | edit source]

Clare Francis is president of British charity Action for ME, which she helped found.[4][2]

Talks and interviews[edit | edit source]

Online presence[edit | edit source]

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Website
  • YouTube

See also[edit | edit source]

Learn more[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Grady, Rose (April 5, 1988). "'My battle against the living death' | Bizarre disease gives fearless sailor her greatest challenge". Weekly World News.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Your legacy of hope for people with M.E. - Action for ME | Transforming the world of M.E." (PDF). Action for ME. Retrieved November 17, 2021.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Yachtswoman, author, ME spokeswoman Clare Francis MBE to give talk in aid of Save Valletta's Skyline". The Malta Independent. October 8, 2019. Retrieved November 17, 2021.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Jones, Catherine (October 16, 2004). "Don't mention the Sailing". Cardiff, Wales: Western Mail – via Free Online Library.
  5. "A Brief Biography". Clare Francis. Retrieved November 17, 2021.
  6. "Deceit Kindle Edition - Francis, Clare". Books - Amazon. Retrieved November 17, 2021.