Thursday, August 29, 2013

Update: 28 more...

Happy Labor Day weekend to those in the U.S. 

Andy and I will be in sunny San Diego (as opposed to foggy San Francisco) for the long weekend, but my next post, on the second Celia Buckmaster novel (I know you're all holding your breath!), should go up by next Wednesday. Or Tuesday if I'm really inspired. Ciao until then!


I've added 28 more writers to the main list.  These are quite a mixed bag.  Several are mainly known as mystery writers—I was trolling some mystery websites and came up with several new names.  In particular, Margot Bennett, who received acclaim from Julian Symons and then turned her attention to sci-fi; Katherine Farrer, whose Cretan Counterfeit reportedly makes effective use of the British Library and Bloomsbury; and Joan Fleming, whose The Man From Nowhere was acclaimed for its portrayal of suspicion in an English village, all seem to be of interest.  I'm also yearning now for Nancy Spain's The Kat Strikes (1955), a well-received thriller set in the immediate postwar period in London, availability of which in the U.S. seems sadly limited.  Another for the Hopeless Wish List? Perhaps, though I haven't given up yet!

In addition, I finally fleshed out my information on some writers I had on my World War II reading list—memoirists like Christabel Bielenberg and Anita Leslie and another important diarist, Clara Milburn, who lived through the terrible bombing of Coventry.

I also added Antonia White's daughter, Susan Chitty, who turns out to have written three novels herself, and a few World War I period writers about whom information is sparse.  And the work of Gertrude Bell and Ethel Tweedie, though not technically fiction or memoir, both were trailblazing and intriguing enough for their travel writing to be of interest here.  Travel writing is sort of memoir, right?  Right?

And Edna O'Brien?  It's hard to believe at this late date that I'm still finding oversights this significant.  My excuse is that I thought she didn't start writing until the mid-1960s.  In fact, her first novel appeared in 1960, qualifying her (just barely) for inclusion here.

The new total: 429 writers.  With more to come!

MARJORIE ALAN (1905-????)
(pseudonym of Doris Marjorie Bumpus)

More research needed; mystery novelist about whom little information is available; titles include Masked Murder (1945), Murder in November (1946), Murder at Puck's Cottage (1951), and Murder in a Maze (1956).

ALICE MAUD ALLEN (dates unknown)

More research needed; author of at least four novels, including the World War I themed Silhouette (1923) and The Trap (1931), the latter published by the Woolves; other titles include Baxters o' the Moor (1922), One Tree (1926), and a biography of Sophy Sanger (1958).

ALICE ASKEW (1874-1917)

Novelist who co-authored with her husband Claude an astonishing number of popular novels, including Helen of the Moor (1911) and Nurse (1916); in WWI, they worked together in a British field hospital in Serbia, and were killed when their ship was torpedoed by a German submarine.

(pseudonym of Muriel Vere Mant Barling, aka Charles Barling)

Author of more than two dozen mystery novels, including White Pierrot (1936), Saga of a Scoundrel (1947), The Rest Is Silence (1951), Motive for Murder (1963), and Cage Without Bars (1966).

GERTRUDE BELL (1868-1926)

Archaeologist, travel writer, anti-suffragist, and a key political figure involved in establishing the modern nation of Iraq, Bell was a trailblazing but controversial figure whose complexities are revealed in her Letters (published 1927-1928); her diaries of 1913-14 appeared in 2000.

MARGOT BENNETT (1912-1980)

Author of mystery novels such as The Widow of Bath (1952), praised by Julian Symons, and The Man Who Didn't Fly (1955), and of two science fiction novels—The Long Way Back (1954), about an England colonized by Africa, and The Furious Masters (1968).


Memoirist known for The Past Is Myself (1968), about her marriage to a German Nazi-resister and their harrowing life in Nazi Germany, which inspired the TV drama Christabel (1988); after the TV version, demand from fans led Bielenberg to write a sequel, The Road Ahead (1992).


Daughter of Prime Minister Herbert Asquith (and grandmother of actress Helena Bonham-Carter), best known for her biography, Winston Churchill as I Knew Him (1965), but her diaries, published in three volumes (1996-2000), are also important for her insider's view of tumultuous times.

(aka Jennie Melville)

Acclaimed author of both contemporary and historical mysteries and, under her pseudonym, of gothic romances and a mystery series featuring policewoman Charmian Daniels; titles include Receipt for Murder (1956), Murderers' Houses (1966), and A Nameless Coffin (1966).

SUSAN CHITTY (1929-     )

Daughter of Antonia White; biographer and author of three novels—The Diary of a Fashion Model (1958), White Huntress (1963), and My Life & Horses (1966); her biographies include The Woman Who Wrote Black Beauty (1971) and a biography of Edward Lear (1989).

HELEN EDMISTON (1913-????)
(aka Helen Robertson)

Mystery writer about whom little is known; author of four mystery novels—The Winged Witnesses (1955), Venice of the Black Sea (1956), The Crystal-Gazers (1957), and the most acclaimed, The Chinese Goose (1960, aka Swan Song), and one additional novel, The Shake-Up (1962).

(pseudonym of Margaret Wetherby Williams)

Born in Canada but raised in England, Erskine was a crime novelist whose works include And Being Dead (1938), The Disappearing Bridegroom (1950), Old Mrs. Ommanney Is Dead (1955), and The Ewe Lamb (1968).


Wife of an Oxford don, Farrer wrote three mysteries—The Missing Link (1952), set at Oxford, Gownsman's Gallows (1954), and The Cretan Counterfeit (1957), set in and around the British Museum—and one mainstream novel, At Odds with Morning (1960).

JOAN FLEMING (1908-1980)

Mystery writer and children's author, known for the variety of her approaches to mystery writing; her best known works include Maiden's Prayer (1957), The Man from Nowhere (1960), a vivid portrayal of suspicion in an English village, and Midnight Hag (1966).

(aka Mary Fitt, Stuart Mary Wick, and Caroline Cory)

Classical scholar, children's author and novelist whose fiction includes the literary Inspector Mallet mystery series beginning with Expected Death (1938), fiction and nonfiction for children, and elegant mainstream fiction including Quarrelling with Lois (1928) and Gown and Shroud (1947).

DULCIE GRAY (1915-2011)
(pseudonym & stage name of Dulcie Winifred Catherine Savage Denison)

Veteran actress of stage, television, and film (including the movie version of Dorothy Whipple's They Were Sisters), Gray also wrote mystery and adventure novels, including Murder on the Stairs (1957), The Murder of Love (1967), and (a fabulous title) Deadly Lampshade (1971).


More research needed; author of a dozen or more novels from the 1900s to the 1930s, including several mysteries; titles include Mrs. Vannock (1907), Amber and Jade (1928), The Punt Murder (1936), and Sweets and Sinners (1937).

ELAINE HAMILTON (dates unknown)

More research needed; mystery writer of the 1930s whose titles include Some Unknown Hand (1930), Murder in the Fog (1931), The Chelsea Mystery (1932), and Murder Before Tuesday (1937).

VERE HUTCHINSON (dates unknown)

More research needed; forgotten novelist of the 1920s, whose works include Sea Wrack (1922), The Naked Man (1925), Great Waters (1926), The Dark Freight (1928), and a story collection, The Other Gate and Other Stories (1928).

MRS. JOHN LANE (1854-1927)
(pseudonym of Annie Philippine Eichberg Lane, first married name King)

More research needed; wife of publisher John Lane, published several light novels, including According to Maria (1910), Maria Again (1915), and War Phases According to Maria (1917), and several other works for which information is not available.

ANITA LESLIE (1914-1985)

Successful biographer best known for Jennie: The Life of Lady Randolph Churchill (1969), about Winston Churchill's mother, Leslie earned the French Croix de Guerre twice as an ambulance driver in WWII, described in her extraordinary memoir Train to Nowhere (1948).


Director of the Women's Royal Naval Service (WRNS) during World War II, for which she received the DBE, Mathews published a significant memoir of her experiences, called Blue Tapestry (1948).

CLARA MILBURN (1883–1961)

Diarist whose World War II diaries, published as Mrs. Milburn's Diaries (1979), provide an important record of domestic life in Coventry during the war—including her experience of the terrible air raids on Coventry and the news that her son is missing in action after Dunkirk.

PATRICIA MOYES (1923-2000)

Popular mystery writer whose novels usually feature Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Henry Tibbett and his wife, whose close relationship add depth to the series; titles include Dead Men Don't Ski (1959), Murder a la Mode (1963), and The Curious Affair of the Third Dog (1973).

EDNA O'BRIEN (1930-     )

Acclaimed Irish novelist, dramatist, screenwriter, and biographer, best known for her Country Girls trilogy—The Country Girls (1960), The Lonely Girl (1962), and Girls in Their Married Bliss (1964); O'Brien published a memoir, Country Girl, in 2012.

DORIS POCOCK (dates unknown)

More research needed; children's author whose work includes girls' school stories such as The Head Girl's Secret (1927), mystery stories like The Riddle of the Rectory (1931), and World War II stories like Catriona Carries On (1940) and Lorna on the Land (1946), the latter about Land Girls.

NANCY SPAIN (1917-1964)

Pioneering journalist, TV personality, biographer, children's author, and co-founder of the feminist She magazine, Spain wrote three memoirs as well as humorous mysteries such as Death Before Wicket (1946); her novel The Kat Strikes (1955), set in postwar London, received particular acclaim.

(aka Mrs. Alec Tweedie)

Biographer and author of light travel books; best known for early works like A Girl's Ride in Iceland (1889) and A Winter Jaunt to Norway (1894), which pushed the boundaries of acceptable women's behavior, she later explored women's roles in other locales in Women the World Over (1914).


  1. Goodness, Scott. So many more. I'm impressed.

    1. Thank you, Susan. You wouldn't believe how many more are on my "to research" list--certainly enough to keep me busy for a while!

  2. I have read and loved Violet Bonham Carter's diaries for years. Her sister-in-law Cynthia Asquith also has published diaries from WW I which are pretty compelling reading. Great list! Thanks!

    1. Thanks, Karen! So far I've only read a few snippets, so it's great to know they're worth diving into more thoroughly. Cynthia Asquith's are definitely on my "to read" list as well.


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