SHE was the older sister in the literary family of Durrells, famously portrayed as a free spirit by her zoologist brother Gerald in his bestselling book My Family and Other Animals.

But the attention of the literary world focused on "sparkling" Margo Durrell herself when she published her own story, Whatever Happened to Margo? in the mid-1990s.

Margo, who spent much of her life in Bournemouth, sadly passed away at the age of 87 in January.

She was the last surviving member of the family that included another brother, Lawrence, who achieved international fame as a poet, dramatist and novelist.

Born in India, the family spent some time in Parkstone and then Bournemouth before living in Corfu for a number of years until the outbreak of war in 1939.

Margo secretly returned to Corfu where she spent some of the war years.

Later, she married her first husband, Jack Breeze, at St Andrew's Church in Charminster, Bournemouth.

She and her pilot husband travelled widely in Africa and then returned to Bournemouth.

Apart from a few years working in a boutique on a Greek cruise ship - getting the job after answering an ad in the Echo - and occasional trips to visit her brothers in Jersey and France, she made her home in St Albans Avenue, Bournemouth.

"Gerald would turn up with hoards of animals from his expeditions and place them in the back garden," said Gerry Breeze, one of her two sons.

"She became the focus of a delightfully chaotic circle of family and friends, much as her own mother had done."

After their marriage ended, she and Jack remained close friends until the day he died. She was also, briefly, married to Max Duncan, a trombone player.

"Both my husbands were terribly nice people," she once told the Echo. When Gerald's book, My Family and Other Animals, was televised in the 1980s, she was delighted.

"I enjoyed every minute of it," she added in an Echo interview a few years ago.

"I know they made me dotty but I took it in good part."

She had been a landlady in the 1940s, renting out rooms to a curious assortment of lodgers and wrote a manuscript about her experiences.

That manuscript was discovered decades later by one of her granddaughters, Tracy, in an attic and Whatever Happened to Margo? was published in 1995.

Brother Gerald wrote in the introduction to her book: "From the beginning, and every bit as keenly as the Durrell brothers, Margo displayed an appreciation for the comic side of life and an ability to observe the foibles of people and places.

"Like us, she is sometimes prone to exaggeration and flights of fancy, but I think this is no bad thing when it comes to telling one's stories in an entertaining way."

An exuberant personality, Margo - Margaret Isobel Mabel Durrell (Breeze Duncan) - passed away on January 16 in a Bournemouth nursing home, leaving two sons, Gerry and Nicholas, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

At her funeral, Lee Durrell, widow of Gerald and honorary director of the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, said: "Margo was truly one of a kind. She sparkled with her own special joie de vivre and enriched the lives of everyone around her with an aura of happy serenity and a marvellous sense of fun.

"With the passing of Margo, the world loses a remarkable generation, a creative and inspiring family."