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Marghanita Laski Dies at 72

February 7, 1988

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) _ Marghanita Laski, a novelist, critic and prolific amateur lexicographer, died after a short illness, her family said Sunday. She was 72.

The cause of her death Saturday was not announced.

A graduate of Somerville College, Oxford, Ms. Laski published her first novel, ″Love on the Supertax,″ in 1944 and followed with five others by 1953, including ″The Victorian Chaise-Longue.″

She then turned to criticism with books on Charlotte Yonge, Jane Austen, George Eliot and Rudyard Kipling and two studies of religious and aesthetic experience, ″Ecstasy″ and ″Everyday Ecstasy.″

One of her novels, ″Little Boy Lost,″ was turned into a movie in the 1950s starring Bing Crosby. Her 1959 television play, ″The Offshore Island,″ about life in Britain after an atomic holocaust, was one of the first to treat a politically sensitive topic.

She was widely known as a radio broadcaster, was one of the original television panelists on ″What’s My Line?″ Since 1979 she was a member of the Arts Council of Great Britain, which channels government aid to the performing and visual arts.

Throughout her life, language remained one of Ms. Laski’s great passions.

Dr. Robert Burchfield, who started editing the four supplements to the Oxford English Dictionary in 1960, said she was his biggest contributor.

″Her response was extraordinary,″ he said. ″By the time the fourth volume was published in 1986, she had sent in about a quarter of a million quotations - far more than any other contributor.″

She is survived by her husband, publisher John Howard, who founded the Cresset Press; and a son and a daughter.

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