PHUKET – Jeremy O’Neil the son of best-selling author Gilda O’Neill has been found dead on a beach in Thailand the body of Jeremy O’Neill was found on Patong beach in Phuket.
The 37-year-old son of the late critically acclaimed author had been studying Thai at Patong Language School, just a few hundred yards from the beach.
He was seen washing himself in the sea only hours before his death.
He was found by people visiting the beach and taken to nearby Patong Hospital, where doctors confirmed he had drowned.
His mother, who wrote bestsellers My East End and Our Street, died following a short illness in 2010.
Mr O’Neill who grew up in Brentwood, Essex, moved to London in 2002 before travelling to Thailand.
Friends and family paid tribute to “an amazing man” online, while donating funds for Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Jodie said: “Jel was the most big-hearted, larger than life, craziest person I knew and when remembering him I will always smile 🙂 sleep tight fella xxx.”
J Bucknole added: “Donating to a great charity in memory of an amazing man.”
A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office confirmed that Mr O’Neill died last month.
“We were notified of the death of a British national on May 21 and we are providing consular assistance at this sad time,” added the spokesman.
Bestselling author Gilda O’Neill, who chronicled the history of the East End of London in her novels and non-fiction, after a short illness, her literary agency Curtis Brown has announced. She was 59.
Born in 1951 in Bethnal Green, O’Neill was brought up in the East End, the granddaughter of a Thames tug skipper and a pie and mash shop owner. She left school at 15 but went on to take three degrees as a mature student, turning to writing full time in 1990.
She hit the bestseller lists with her history of cockney London, My East End, following it up with Our Street, about East Enders during the second world war, and The Good Old Days, chronicling the underbelly of London in the 19th century.
O’Neill was also the author of 13 novels set in and around the area she grew up, from her most recent second world war-set Secrets of the Heart, in which 16-year-old Freddie is conducting a secret relationship with a girl from the local Chinese community, to Sins of the Fathers, about East End crime family the O’Donnells.
“Gilda O’Neill was a generous, loving and popular person whose writing and life touched all those came into contact with her,” said Curtis Brown in a statement. “Her works of oral history were held in high regard and widely read.”