British novelist Jackie Collins has died at the age of 77 after battling breast cancer.

The renowned writer of raunchy female fiction, who sold more than 500 million novels in more than 40 countries, was diagnosed six-and-a-half years ago but told few people about her illness because she didn’t want to “burden” others with it.

During her 40-year career, the mother-of-three and grandmother-of-six amassed a huge amount of friends, and tributes to her have been pouring in through the day, after she died in Los Angeles on Saturday.

PA WireJoan Collins pays tribute to her sister (Twitter/PA)

But one of the most poignant tributes came from Jackie’s own sister, renowned actress Dame Joan Collins, who spoke of her “beautiful brave baby sister”.

She wrote: “Farewell to my beautiful brave baby sister. I will love you and miss you forever. Rest in peace.”

The pair was rumoured to have had a difficult relationship at times, but they were pictured together in London just a few days ago while Jackie was on a promotional tour for her new novel The Santangelos.

At the time Dame Joan tweeted: “Lovely evening @thewolsely before sis went back to LaLaLand.”

PA WireJoan Collins tweeted a picture of her and Jackie just a few days ago (Twitter/PA)

Jilly Cooper – also famed for her saucy romantic novels – said the news of her fellow writer’s death was a “terrible shock”, but her decision not to tell people was “a mark of her splendour”.

The 78-year-old told LBC radio: “She was absolutely marvellous, she was lovely. She was a very, very good writer. Also she was a terrific friend. When I was going through a bad time she would ring me up and send me nice letters.”

Presenter Graham Norton once interviewed Jackie on his chatshow and said of her: “I’m so very sad to hear about Jackie Collins. She was the definition of a class act. Everyone who met her was lucky.”

Joan (left) and Jackie Collins during the filming of the New Year's Eve Graham Norton ShowJoan (left) and Jackie Collins during the filming of the New Year’s Eve Graham Norton Show (Yui Mok/PA)

Oprah Winfrey added: “RIP Jackie Collins. I always loved our interviews.”

Living in Beverly Hills, the British writer had many high-profile friends across the continents.

Legendary James Bond star Sir Roger Moore said: “A great shock to hear Jackie Collins has left us. What a talented lady. Our thoughts are with Joan Collins and her family.”

And American actor James Woods wrote: “She was one of the loveliest people imaginable. A true star who treated everyone equally. RIP, dear friend.”

After hearing the news of Jackie’s death, Sharon Osbourne posted a picture of the pair together and wrote: “Shocked and devastated at the death of Jackie Collins. Loved and respected her. Thoughts and prayers go out to her family.”

Television presenter Eamonn Holmes wrote: “Condolences to Joan Collins over the death of her sister Jackie. Sad times. Over years of interviewing, appearing with her, even travelling together – she was just lovely. RIP Jackie Collins.”

Jackie Collins aged 22 at her London wedding to Wallace AustinJackie Collins aged 22 at her London wedding to Wallace Austin (PA)

Comedian and former Ally McBeal actress Sandra Bernhard wrote: “I am devastated at the news about Jackie Collins. I knew her, she was a class act and a lady. The diarist of Hollywood at its best and worst. German Vogue did a story on me and Jackie Collins. It was a lunch and girl talk. We both wore leopard and laughed our asses off.”

The rest of Jackie’s family said she had broken new ground for female writers in fiction over the course of her 40-year career. In a statement, they said: “It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the death of our beautiful, dynamic and one of a kind mother, Jackie Collins, who died of breast cancer today.”

 Jackie Collins with her granddaughters (L-R: Dylan Thain, Chloe Green, and India Thain) as she holds her OBE in 2013Jackie Collins with her granddaughters (L-R: Dylan Thain, Chloe Green, and India Thain) as she holds her OBE in 2013 (Tony Harris/PA)

“She lived a wonderfully full life and was adored by her family, friends and the millions of readers who she has been entertaining for over four decades.

“She was a true inspiration, a trail blazer for women in fiction and a creative force. She will live on through her characters but we already miss her beyond words.”

Her novels, telling stories of glamour, sex and affairs in Hollywood, include The World Is Full Of Married Men, The Love Killers and The World Is Full Of Divorced Women. Her title Hollywood Wives became a New York Times bestseller and was made into a television series starring Farrah Fawcett and Anthony Hopkins.

A young Jackie CollinsJackie Collins brought about a revolution in writing for female novelists (PA)

In an interview with the Press Association earlier this month, Jackie said she chose to celebrate life rather than mourn those close to her who had died.

“I refuse to mourn people, because everybody dies. Death and taxes, you can’t avoid either,” she said.

Jackie CollinsJackie said she chose to celebrate life rather than mourn those who had died (Tony Harris/PA)

Private memorial services will be held for family members in America and the UK, and those wishing to make donations can do so to the Susan G Komen Breast Cancer Organisation in America and Penny Brohn Cancer Care in the UK.