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An obituary is an article published after a person's death, summarizing his/her life, its achievements and possibly any notable failures. A well-read part of upmarket newspapers, in which they usually command a special page, obituaries are written in a more literary style than news articles (Starck, 2004a, 2004b).

Max Hastings, former editor of the Daily Telegraph, credited his obituaries editor Hugh Montgomery-Massingberd with transforming its obituary column ‘from a murky backwater of the paper into the most brilliant feature of its kind in the business’ (2002: 94–5).

If a subject is particularly famous or prominent, and especially if very old, long obituaries are prepared while the subject lives, to guard against the deadline pressures caused by sudden death.

Obituaries can provide an opportunity for journalists to revisit bygone ...

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