The actress, best known for playing Edna Birch on the ITV soap, passed away at her home on Monday morning (7 December) following a short battle with cancer.
A statement from ITV said Edna had "passed away peacefully" with her daughter Helena by her side.
John Whiston, MD of Continuing Drama and head of ITV in the North, paid tribute on behalf the soap's cast and crew, saying: "The family here at Emmerdale are deeply saddened by Shirley's passing, it is hard to imagine Emmerdale without her. We offer our condolences to Shirley's family and share our feeling of loss with the millions of viewers who will miss Edna enormously."
Shirley had played Edna for the last 15 years.
The actress had trained at RADA before appearing in TV shows including Keeping Up Appearances, playing the original Rose, and Common As Muck, as well as TV movie Pat and Margaret. She also appeared extensively on stage.
Following the news of her death, the late star's name began trending on Twitter as fans and co-stars paid their condolences.
RIP Shirley Stelfox you were a joy to watch on screen as Edna, a character who will be missed. Thoughts with her family & friends— Zoe Cockburn (@Rh1n0g1rl) December 8, 2015
RIP Shirley Stelfox. What a shock, had no idea she was ill. Absolutely loved her in Emmerdale and Keeping Up Appearances. Very sad news.— Lewis Pringle (@lewispringle) December 8, 2015
Sad news about Shirley Stelfox. She became a soap legend in recent years but I'll always have fond memories of her in Making Out. RIP.— Dominic James Brown (@DomJBrown) December 8, 2015
Very very sad at the passing of Shirley Stelfox. What a remarkable woman she was.— Rosie Beck (@RosieBeck) December 8, 2015
Will really miss the wondrous Shirley Stelfox. A true one off and so kind and generous with advice. Thankyou. https://t.co/T0nH8d2gxn— Sharon Marshall (@Sharontweet) December 8, 2015
Really sad about the passing of Shirley Stelfox, she will always be a part of Emmerdale. Rest in peace— Ramin Moeen Zadeh (@Raminmz) December 8, 2015