Former US first lady Barbara Bush has died aged 92, a family spokesperson has said.

A statement by Jim McGrath, the spokesman for former president George HW Bush, said Mrs Bush had died on Tuesday.

Mrs Bush was the wife of the former president, who served from 1989 to 1993, and also the mother of George W Bush – who was president from 2001 to 2009.

The family’s statement called her a “relentless proponent of family literacy”.

Mrs Bush’s plainspoken manner and lack of pretence at times made her more popular than her husband.

“What you see with me is what you get. I’m not running for president – George Bush is,” she told the Republican convention in 1988.

One of four children, she was born Barbara Pierce in the affluent New York suburb of Rye on 8 June, 1925.

Her father was president of publishing company McCall’s, but her mother died in a car accident in 1949.

She was 16 when she met George HW Bush at a school dance and the two married three years later in 1945, while he was on leave from wartime service.

She often said: “I married the first man I ever kissed”, and together their 73-year marriage was the longest of any presidential couple.

Mrs Bush had five children and was popular with Americans for her motherliness but also her steely side and fierce loyalty to her husband.

Mr Bush, in turn, was fiercely loyal to her, describing himself as a “nervous wreck” when she had open-heart surgery in 2009.

After she regained consciousness, he battled back tears of relief, telling reporters about the “reunion of two people who love each other”.

As well as being the wife of a president, she was, of course, the mother of another president – George W Bush.

However, she drew the line at the prospect of a third Bush – Jeb – running for the White House in 2016, saying: “We’ve had enough Bushes.”

In a statement, the White House said: “As a wife, mother grandmother, military spouse and former first lady, Mrs Bush was an advocate of the American family.

“Amongst her greatest achievements was recognising the importance of literacy as a fundamental family value that requires nurturing and protection.

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She will be long remembered for her strong devotion to country and family, both of which she served unfailingly well.”

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