Sunday, November 30, 2014


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British women writing about war 1910-1960

At long last, here is the fourth and final part of my genre list devoted to British women writers who tackled themes related to the World Wars. In this section, such ubiquitous authors as Elizabeth Taylor, Angela Thirkell, and D. E. Stevenson rub shoulders with lesser-known writers like Ethel Sidgwick, Marguerite Steen, and Susan Tweedsmuir.

One of my own favorites in this section (as you'll realize from the length of the entry on her) is Joan Wyndham, whose distinctly "naughty" diaries of World War II are completely one of a kind, if perhaps not for all tastes.

My own copy of the influential Mrs. Miniver
(alas, not quite a first edition)

I've been dipping occasionally into Sylvia Townsend Warner's Selected Stories ever since picking it up at the book sale in September, and I've been noting how much the war permeates even stories written many years later. Which makes it all the more odd and perhaps disappointing that Warner never wrote a novel with a wartime setting.

And I wonder if Les Girls, Constance Tomkinson's memoir of her life as a dancer travelling in wartime Europe, could possibly be as entertaining as it sounds? Has anyone read it?

Do keep the suggestions and comments coming about any authors or books I've forgotten. Undoubtedly there are many. Hope you've enjoyed the list!

Bomb damage to St. Paul's during World War II

(full name Victoria Mary Sackville-West, married name Nicolson)
Poet, travel writer, novelist, and the inspiration behind Virginia Woolf's Orlando, Sackville-West is known for The Edwardians (1930) and All Passion Spent (1931), both adapted for television. She also experimented with sci-fi in Grand Canyon (1941) and with mystery in Devil at Westease (1947). Grand Canyon imagined the outcome of a German victory in World War II. She also published Country Notes in Wartime (1941), a compilation of short pieces on country life and gardening which had first appeared in The New Statesman and Nation, and The Women's Land Army (1944). Some of her letters, such as those in Vita and Harold: The Letters of Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson (1992), also deal with the war, and Nicolson's diaries of the war years are themselves interesting and well-known.

(pseudonym of Maureen Kate Heard, married name Pretyman, aka Maureen Pretyman)
Author of two humorous mysteries now reprinted by Rue Morgue Press—Green December Fills the Graveyard (1945), set in a partially-bombed out manor house in the late years of the war, and A Dinner for None (1948). Sadly, Rue Morgue felt the need to give both books extraordinarily dull new titles for their reprints—Murder at Shots Hall and Murder at Beechlands respectively. Sarsfield also published one long-forgotten non-mystery, Gloriana (1946), and several children's books including Queen Victoria Lost Her Crown (1946).

Author of numerous children's books and adult novels including two with a school component—Redhead at School (1951) and The Golden Cap (1966); others are Pippin's House (1931), Moonshine in Candle Street (1937), Blue Fields (1947), Scarlet Plume (1953), and Breton Holiday (1963). Other of her works could deal with the war, but certainly Enemy Brothers (1943) belongs on this list—it's about a British airman who believes that a young German prisoner is actually his brother, who had been kidnapped many years before. Enemy Brothers was reprinted by American religious publisher Bethlehem Books in 2001. The physical version seems to be out of print, but the ebook is still available.

(married name Fleming)
Scholar and mystery writer known for her Peter Wimsey/Harriet Vane novels, including Strong Poison (1930), Have His Carcase (1932), Murder Must Advertise (1934), and (the most acclaimed), The Nine Tailors (1934) and Gaudy Night (1935). After the 1930s, Sayers wrote no more novels, though she did write one short story featuring Lord Peter during World War II. "Tallboys," written in 1942, did not appear until 1971, in the collection Striding Folly (1971). She also published, in the Spectator in 1940, a series of fictional letters from and to Peter Wimsey, Harriet Vane, and others of their circle, very much focused on the early days of the war.

(née Raphael, earlier married name Mendl, aka Henrietta Leslie, aka Gladys Mendl)
Outspoken pacifist and author of numerous novels, including The Straight Road (1911), After Eight O'Clock (1930), Mother of Five (1934), and her historical Mogford Trilogy (1942-1946). A Mouse with Wings (1920) wrestles with feminine pacifism versus masculine idealism in the Great War. Mrs. Fischer's War (1930), her best-known work, was based on Schutze's own misfortunes in World War I as a result of her German name and husband.

(née Stapleton)
Prolific popular novelist whose debut, Invisible Tides (1919), deals with World War I from the perspective of a woman who stayed at home. Other titles include The Hopeful Journey (1923), Three Wives (1927), Maids and Mistresses (1932), Fool of Time (1940), and Buds of May (1947).

MARGERY SHARP (1905-1991)
(full name Clara Margery Melita Sharp, married name Castle)
Novelist and children's author known for her children’s series starting with The Rescuers (1959) and for numerous light humorous novels including The Nutmeg Tree (1937), Harlequin House (1939), The Stone of Chastity (1940), Cluny Brown (1944), and The Foolish Gentlewoman (1948). Sharp's own experiences living through the bombing of London show up in Britannia Mews (1946), considered one of her best novels. Cluny Brown, though published in wartime, is set in 1938. The Foolish Gentlewoman follows the inhabitants and neighbors of a country estate as they return home after the war.

JANE SHAW (1910-2000)
(pseudonym of Jean Bell Shaw Patrick, married name Evans, aka Jean Bell)
Prolific author of more than three dozen children's books, including family and adventure tales as well as the Susan series of school-related stories. Some of her other wartime books may include spy or other war-related themes, but House of the Glimmering Light (1943) is definitely a wartime spy adventure (thank you for that tidbit, CallMeMadam!).  Other titles include Breton Holiday (1939), Highland Holiday (1942), Susan Pulls the Strings (1952), Crooked Sixpence (1958), and Crooks Tour (1962).

ETHEL SIDGWICK (1877-1970)
Novelist whose early works received critical praise, while later works were lighter; best known are A Lady of Leisure (1914), Hatchways (1916), and Dorothy's Wedding (1931), the last intriguingly described as being about the minutiae of daily life in two villages. Jamesie (1918) is an epistolary novel about the impacts of World War I on an upper class English family.

EDITH SITWELL (1886-1964)
Important modernist poet and bestselling biographer—The Queens and the Hive (1962) focused on Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots—Sitwell also wrote one experimental novel, I Live under a Black Sun (1937), which mixes autobiographical events with the life of Jonathan Swift. Sitwell wrote no fiction about the war, but was acclaimed for her wartime poetry, included in such collections as Street Songs (1942), The Song of the Cold (1945) and The Shadow of Cain (1947). In particular, her poem "Still Falls the Rain," about the Blitz, became famous, and was later set to music by Benjamin Britten.

(married names Connolly, Weidenfeld, and Jackson)
Author of two novels—A Young Girl's Touch (1956) and the darkly humorous A Love Match (1969)—and one story collection, Born Losers (1965).  Skelton is probably best known now for her memoirs Tears Before Bedtime (1987) and Weep No More (1989), the former of which includes her experiences in World War II.

(née Jones)
Novelist whose work ranged from romantic melodrama, as in Lost Hill (1952), to dark comedy, in Miss Plum and Miss Penny (1959), to the war-themed He Went for a Walk (1954), in which a boy made homeless by the Blitz finds his way across wartime England. The last has been recommended on the D. E. Stevenson discussion list. Other titles include My Lamp Is Bright (1948), The Lovely Day (1957), and Brief Flower (1966).

EMMA SMITH (1923-     )
(pseudonym of Elspeth Hallsmith, married name Stewart-Jones)
Best known for her novel The Far Cry (1949, reprinted by Persephone), Smith also wrote Maidens' Trip (1948, reprinted by Bloomsbury), a memoir of working on the canals of England during World War II, and a late novel, The Opportunity of a Lifetime (1978).

MAY SMITH (1914-2004)
Schoolteacher and diarist, whose witty war diaries, telling of life as a teacher in a village near Derby, were published by Virago as These Wonderful Rumours!: A Young Schoolteacher's Wartime Diaries 1939-1945 (2012).

STEVIE SMITH (1902-1971)
(full name Florence Margaret Smith)
Well-regarded poet and critic who also published three eccentric novels, Novel on Yellow Paper (1936), in which Smith’s alter-ego, a secretary named Pompey, is introduced, Over the Frontier (1938), and The Holiday (1949), all reprinted by Persephone. The last of these was actually written in the final years of the war, but when it was published a few years later the publisher felt that readers were no longer interested in the war. Smith revised the novel and removed or veiled many of the references to wartime conditions. It still retains an oddly claustrophobic feel, however, which surely comes from the pervasive fatigue and resignation to fate that seems to characterize the final years of the war. A few more short wartime writings appeared in Me Again, which collected numerous previously unpublished or uncollected pieces by Smith.

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. In addition, her first published work, Thank You, Nelson (1945), was a memoir of her own experiences in the war. The paperback edition featured the blurb, "The Irrepressible Nancy Spain's Witty, Vigourous and Inspiring Account of the W.R.N.S. at War."

MURIEL SPARK (1918-2006)
(née Camberg)
Major novelist whose works combine dark humor with a Catholic sensibility; her most acclaimed works include Memento Mori (1959), The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), The Girls of Slender Means (1963), Loitering With Intent (1981), and A Far Cry from Kensington (1988). The Girls of Slender Means takes place in a London boarding-house for girls during the final days of World War II.

FREYA STARK (1893?-1993)
(married name Perowne)
Best known for travel books like The Valleys of the Assassins (1932) and A Winter in Arabia (1940), Stark also wrote several significant memoirs, including Traveller's Prelude (1950) and Dust in the Lion’s Paw (1961), the latter of which covers her wartime years, which included frequent travel in the Middle East and beyond in her work for the Ministry of Information.

(née Benson, aka Jane Nicholson, aka Lennox Dryden)
Popular novelist active from the 1920s-1970s; her novel Matador (1934) was a book club selection and The Sun Is My Undoing (1941), about the Atlantic slave trade, was a bestseller. Her 1942 novel Shelter, published under the pseudonym Jane Nicholson, is not necessarily the best example of "Blitz lit" available but is stylistically quite interesting, incorporating modernist techniques. Steen also published two memoirs of literary life, Looking Glass (1966) and Pier Glass (1968).

(married name Peploe)
Popular novelist whose best-known works include the hilarious Miss Buncle's Book (1934) and its sequels and the autobiographical Mrs. Tim series (1934-1952). The third Miss Buncle entry, The Two Mrs. Abbotts (1943), follows the characters into wartime, where food shortages and German spies are tackled as cheerfully as romantic entanglements and childrearing. Mrs. Tim also has a wartime entry, Mrs. Tim Carries On (1941), which is among my favorites. Other Stevenson works dealing with the war in one form or another include The English Air (1940), Spring Magic (1941), Crooked Adam (1942), Listening Valley (1944), Amberwell (1955), and Sarah Morris Remembers (1966). Celia's House (1943) has sections set during both World War I and World War II. The Four Graces (1946) is set in the final days of the wara, and Stevenson also published several novels after the war that deal prominently with postwar themes, including Mrs. Tim Gets a Job (1947), Kate Hardy (1947), Young Mrs. Savage (1948), Vittoria Cottage (1949), and Summerhills (1956). Still Glides the Stream (1959) also has a WWII connection, as its plot centers around a letter written by a soldier during the war but only received by his sister years later.

JOYCE STOREY (1917-2001)
Popular memoirist whose humorous and colorful work includes Our Joyce 1917-1939 (1987), Joyce's War (1990), and Joyce's Dream: The Post-War Years (1995); these three volumes were condensed into a one-volume edition called The House in South Road in 2004.

LESLEY STORM (1898-1975)
(pseudonym of Mabel Margaret Doran Clark, née Cowie)
Screenwriter, playwright, and novelist, known for her treatment of gender issues and marriage. Her novels include Lady, What of Life? (1927), Small Rain (1929), Robin and Robina (1931) and Just as I Am (1933), but she is largely remembered for her popular plays, including Heart of a City (1942), which takes place during the Blitz, and Great Day (1945), which presents preparations by the Women's Institute of an English village for a unexpected visit from Eleanor Roosevelt. Both were made into films.

Sister of Dorothy and Lytton, Marjorie Strachey published a collection, Savitri and Other Women (1920), and three novels—David the Son of Jesse (1921), The Nightingale (1925), about Chopin, and The Counterfeits (1927), about a woman adapting to peacetime life after nursing in WWI.

(aka Susan Scarlett)
Known for children's fiction such as Ballet Shoes (1936) and Curtain Up (1944, aka Theatre Shoes), Streatfeild wrote serious novels as well as her romantic and family-themed novels under the pseudonym Susan Scarlett. Of the latter, Summer Pudding (1943) and Murder While You Work (1944) are certainly set during the war, and Poppies for England (1946) is evocative in its immediate postwar setting. Among her "serious" novels, The Winter Is Past (1940) deals with life in a country house in wartime, I Ordered a Table for Six (1942) is bleak but intriguing, and Saplings (1945, reprinted by Persephone) is a compelling family story about the lingering effects of the Blitz. Among her children's fiction, The Children of Primrose Lane (1941) is an adventure story making use of wartime atmosphere, Harlequinade (1943) follows a group of circus children sent to the countryside to ride out the war, and Party Frock (1946) is about children in an English village at the very end and immediately after the war (one character's parents are in a prison camp). The aforementioned Curtain Up was originally set against the backdrop of war, but apparently most subsequent reprints of the book edit out the war-related content.

JAN STRUTHER (1901-1953)
(pseudonym of Joyce Anstruther, married names Graham and Placzek)
Poet and essayist immortalized by her creation of Mrs. Miniver (1939), derived from a series of articles she wrote for The Times about a family’s life in Chelsea just before WWII, and made into an Oscar-winning film in 1942 (which extended Struther's work to include the outbreak of war and the Blitz). Winston Churchill famously said that the book did more for the war effort than a flotilla of battleships. Struther’s other work includes poetry and the essay collections Try Anything Twice (1938) and A Pocketful of Pebbles (1946).

(aka Georgina Groves)
Known for a children's series featuring Pansy and Atalanta, two children who find themselves in major historical events, including the suffrage movement in Miss Rivers and Miss Bridges (1971); her three adult novels are All Souls (1950), French Windows (1952), and The Suckling (1969). Her novel Now and Then (1977, published in the U.S. as Crocuses Were Over, Hitler Was Dead) is a time-slip story of a girl moving with her family to a country estate and occasionally slipping back into World War II when she befriends meets a gardener and his dog from those earlier years.

ETHEL M[ARY]. TALBOT (1880-1944)
One of the major authors of girls' school stories from 1919 to the 1940s; titles include The School on the Moor (1919), Betty at St Benedick's (1924), The School at None-Go-By (1926), Schoolgirl Rose (1928), The Mascot of the School (1934), and The Warringtons in War-Time (1940).

LAURA TALBOT (1908-1966)
(pseudonym of Ursula Winifred Stewart Chetwynd-Talbot, married name Hamilton)
Wife of novelist Patrick Hamilton, known primarily for The Gentlewomen (1952), about disruptions of class identity brought about by World War II, which was reprinted by Virago in the 1980s. Talbot also wrote four other novels—Prairial (1950), Barcelona Road (1953), The Elopement (1958), and The Last of the Tenants (1961)—about which information is sparse.

(née Coles)
Acclaimed if still underrated author of twelve novels, four story collections, and a children's novel. Some of her most famous novels include At Mrs. Lippincote's (1945), A Game of Hide and Seek (1951), Angel (1957, filmed by François Ozon in 2007), Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont (1971, filmed in 2005 with Joan Plowright in the lead), and Blaming (1976). Her incomparable short fiction has now been compiled in Virago's Collected Stories. Although her second novel, Palladian (1946), rather oddly seems to take place in a world where no war has occurred, At Mrs. Lippincote's is one of my favorite evocations of the fatigue and frayed nerves of the final years of the war, and A View of the Harbour (1947) is an atmospheric glimpse of life in the immediate aftermath of war. Several of Taylor's early stories also feature the war, either in the foreground or as a backdrop.

Historian, biographer, and novelist; she wrote a biography of poet Louise Imogen Guiney in 1923. Tenison was also the author of at least three novels—The Valiant Heart (1920), Alastair Gordon, R.N. (1921), and The Undiscovered Island (1924), set in France during WWI.

JOSEPHINE TEY (1897-1952)
(pseudonym of Elizabeth MacKintosh, aka Gordon Daviot)
Novelist, playwright, and mystery writer, known for Miss Pym Disposes (1946), a humorous mystery set at a girls' school, Brat Farrar (1949), To Love and Be Wise (1950), and The Daughter of Time (1951), which "solves" the mystery of Richard III and the Princes in the Tower. None of her fiction seems to address World War II head-on, but The Franchise Affair (1948) is very distinctly set in the immediate postwar period and makes excellent use of that atmosphere.

(née Mackail, later married name McInnes)
Author of the popular Barsetshire Chronicles, nearly 30 humorous, interwoven novels set in the fictional county created by Trollope, beginning with High Rising (1933). Her wartime entries in the series are particularly entertaining, and include Cheerfulness Breaks In (1940), Northbridge Rectory (1941), Marling Hall (1942), Growing Up (1943), The Headmistress (1944), and Miss Bunting (1945). Peace Breaks Out (1946) features the transition into peacetime, returning soldiers, and the resulting recovery and readjustments of series characters. Thirkell's first postwar titles, such as Private Enterprise (1947) and Love Among the Ruins (1948), also trace postwar hardships and concerns.

HELEN THOMAS (1877-1967)
(née Noble)
Married to novelist and war poet Edward Thomas, who was killed in battle in 1917, Thomas later wrote two acclaimed memoirs of their life together, As It Was (1926) and World Without End (1931).

RUBY [SIDE] THOMPSON (1884-1970)
Diarist who used her diaries as a release from an unhappy marriage; Thompson's prewar diaries were published as Ruby: An Ordinary Woman in 1995; her great-granddaughter has now begun publishing her WWII diaries, starting with World War II London Blitz Diary (2013).

(married name Luling)
Novelist best known for The Hounds of Spring (1926), about the repercussions of World War I. The war is also a backdrop in The Rough Crossing (1921), and in Chariot Wheels (1929), according to Sharon Ouditt, "the war appears as snapshots of the past: a suffragette governess
becomes a WAAC; a mother cries when she sees her young son in uniform; a girl visits a wounded soldier." The Gulls Fly Inland (1941) is set during 1939-1940, so presumably includes some mentions of the war, but a contemporary review suggests that it focuses very much on interpersonal relations instead. And The People Opposite (1948) is set in the immediate postwar and deals lightly with two families—one rich and unhappy, the other poor and happy. Among the characters is a young invalided soldier trying to get back in the swing of things after a long hospitalization. Other of Thompson's titles include Battle of the Horizons (1928) Winter Comedy (1931), Breakfast in Bed (1934), and Third Act in Venice (1936).

(full name Anna Violet Thurstan)
Novelist and Red Cross nurse. Field Hospital and Flying Column (1915) is her journal about her experiences serving in Belgium and Russia, written while recovering from a shrapnel wound. Much later she published a memoir of the war entitled The Hounds of War Unleashed (1978). In the 1960s, Thurstan published two novels, Stormy Petrel (1964) and The Foolish Virgin (1966), about which little information is available.

(married name Lansdown)
Daughter of Ursula Orange, whom she discusses in Footprints in Paris: A Few Streets, A Few Lives (2009); author of a dozen novels beginning with No Name in the Street (1959), before turning in recent years to non-fiction centered on towns and cities. The Intruder (1979) is about a young Englishwoman and her son stuck in occupied France during World War II. Her other fiction includes The Water and the Sound (1961), The Youngest (1967), Fly Away Home (1971), and Looking Forward (1983).

Daughter of Ursula Orange, who writes about her mother in Footprints in Paris: A Few Streets, A Few Lives (2009); Tindall published a dozen novels beginning with No Name in the Street (1959), before turning in recent years to biographical non-fiction centered on towns and cities. Her novel The Intruder (1979) is about a young Englishwoman and her son stuck in occupied France during World War II.

LILY TOBIAS (1887-1984)
(née Shepherd)
Born in Wales to Jewish immigrant parents, Tobias is best known for Eunice Fleet (1933), a novel about conscientious objectors in World War I, which I first discovered from a review by dovegreyreader back in 2009.  Her other works include My Mother's House (1931), Tube (1935), and The Samaritan (1939, subtitled "An Anglo-Palestinian Novel").

(married name Bower, aka Barbara Euphan)
Playwright, poet, novelist and children's writer, author of the successful Worzel Gummidge children's books. Todd also wrote Miss Ranskill Comes Home (1946, reprinted by Persephone), a World War II comedy about a woman, stranded on an island since before the war, who is finally rescued and must adapt to wartime life. Darlene at Cosy Books reviewed it enthusiastically last year, and it's a favorite of mine too. Todd also collaborated on two novels with her husband, John Graham Bower—South Country Secrets and The Touchstone (both 1935).

(married name Weeks)
Daughter of a clergyman, Tomkinson debuted on Broadway at age 18; she remains best known for Les Girls (1956), a memoir of her time as a dancer in Europe during WWII; she wrote three more memoirs, African Follies (1958), What a Performance! (1962), and Dancing Attendance (1965).

P[AMELA]. L[YNDON]. TRAVERS (1899-1996)
[pseudonym of Helen Lyndon Goff)
Known for Mary Poppins (1934) and its sequels, including Mary Poppins Comes Back (1935), Mary Poppins Opens the Door (1944), and Mary Poppins in the Park (1952), Travers also wrote I Go by Land, I Go by Sea (1941), about evacuees in World War II, and the memoir Moscow Excursion (1934).

MARY TREADGOLD (1910-2005)
BBC radio producer and children's author, best known for her classic We Couldn't Leave Dinah (1941), about children who miss the evacuation of a fictional Channel island (because they can't leave their horse behind) and end up aiding the resistance to the Nazis. That book is mentioned quite regularly in histories of World War II fiction and children's fiction. Apparently there's also a sequel, The Polly Harris (1949), which follows the children into the immediate postwar years. No Ponies (1946) is set in France just after the war and tackles the very adult issue of Nazi collaborators. Treadgold's later works include The Running Child (1951) and The Winter Princess (1962).

FRANCES [MARY] TURK (1915-2004)
Prolific popular author of light romantic novels. At least two of her works feature wartime themes: Candle Corner (1943) is about an RAF pilot recovering from injuries on a farm—naturally, romance follows; and The Five Grey Geese (1944) is a lively, gung-ho tale about a group of young Land Girls (who also, naturally, find romance)—I had fun with it, but don't expect too much… Other Turk titles include Ancestors (1947), Salutation (1949), and Dinny Lightfoot (1956).

(née Grosvenor, married name Buchan, Tweedsmuir comes from her title, Baroness Tweedsmuir)
Biographer, memoirist, children's writer, and novelist, known for Cousin Harriet (1957), about a pregnant unmarried girl in Victorian England. Other works include The Scent of Water (1937) and several memoirs starting with The Lilac and the Rose (1952). Her late novel, The Rainbow Through the Rain (1950), is apparently partly set in England and partly in Canada, and at least some of it takes place during World War II.

(née Arnold, aka Mrs. Humphry Ward)
Primarily known for Victorian novels like Robert Elsmere (1888) and David Grieve (1892), Ward produced two particularly well-received novels during World War I—Lady Connie (1916), set in 19th century Oxford, and Missing (1917), about a woman who finds "spiritual freedom" as a result of the war. Another novel from the war years which is probably less sympathetic for modern readers is her 1915 anti-suffrage novel Delia Blanchflower. Ward also wrote, at least initially with the encouragement of former U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt, three books of war reportage—or propaganda, depending on your perspective—which were credited with helping to bring the U.S. into the war. 

Novelist, poet, and expert on English church music. Her odd, passionate works include Lolly Willowes (1926), a brilliant novel of spinsterhood, Summer Will Show (1936), The Corner that Held Them (1948), a saga of a medieval convent, The Flint Anchor (1954), and many acclaimed stories. Among her stories are some powerful evocations of wartime England—particularly those collected in A Garland of Straw (1943) and The Museum of Cheats (1947). Her Diaries, published by Virago, are heavily edited but have some vivid thoughts and reactions to the events of the Blitz and the war in general.

HILARY WAYNE (dates unknown)
(pseudonym of Flora Sturgeon?)
Not to be confused with Joan Mary Wayne Brown, who sometimes wrote as Hilary Wayne, this author wrote a memoir, Two Odd Soldiers (1946), about her exploits with her daughter in the ATS during WWII. The British Library suggests this Wayne is a pseudonym for Flora Sturgeon, but I can't confirm.

BEATRICE WEBB (1858-1943)
(née Potter)
Prolific political writer, prominent socialist, and memoirist, whose autobiographies, beginning with My Apprenticeship (1922), provide important background to the politics of her day. But her diaries, which spanned six decades from 1873, when Webb was only 15, until not long before her death in 1943, are the more in-depth resource, and include her politically-engaged thoughts and actions during World War I and in the early years of World War II. The diaries were published in their most complete form in four volumes from 1982 to 1985, but there has since been a more manageable one-volume abridgement published in 2001.

(pseudonym of Dora Amy Elles, married names Dillon and Turnbull)
Novelist who published several historical romances before turning to her successful Miss Silver mystery series. She published regularly from 1910 until just before her death in 1961. Several of her wartime mysteries use the war as a backdrop, including The Chinese Shawl (1943), The Clock Strikes Twelve (1944), Miss Silver Deals With Death (1944, aka Miss Silver Intervenes), The Key (1944), and The Traveller Returns (1945, aka She Came Back), the last set just after the end of the war, when a woman thought to have been killed in France suddenly reappears. Several postwar titles make retrospective reference to the war, but The Case of William Smith (1948) is probably most prominent, featuring a returning soldier with amnesia. The deaf main character of The Listening Eye (1955) is described as having lost her hearing in a bombing raid during the Blitz.

REBECCA WEST (1892-1983)
(pseudonym of Cicily Isabel Andrews, née Fairfield)
Novelist, journalist, and travel writer, best known for the semi-autobiographical family saga The Fountain Overflows (1957); her debut, The Return of the Soldier (1918), in which a soldier with shellshock struggles to remember two very different women who love him, is considered an important novel of World War I. West does not seem to have written any major fiction about World War II, but The Phoenix: The Meaning of Treason (1949) focuses on Brits, including William Joyce (aka Lord Haw-Haw), who worked for Germany during the war, and A Train of Powder (1955) features her accounts of the Nuremberg trials. Other works include The Judge (1922), Harriet Hume (1929), The Thinking Reed (1936), and The Birds Fall Down (1966), as well as Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1941), a massive exploration of the culture of the Balkans.

(née Stirrup)
Popular novelist whose works have been revived by Persephone in recent years, including High Wages (1930), Greenbanks (1932), The Priory (1939), They Were Sisters (1943), and her powerful final work, Someone at a Distance (1953), about the destruction of a happy marriage. The Priory is set during the leadup to the war, and features a poignant scene in which a pregnant woman imagines her chances of surviving a bombing raid. (As a side note, E. M. Delafield's Provincial Lady in Wartime, published the following year, recommends The Priory to a friend as the perfect wartime reading.) They Were Sisters (1943), though written during war, is actually set in the 1930s. The story collection Persephone put together a few years ago, The Closed Door and Other Stories includes some stories set during the war. And Whipple's final novel, Someone at a Distance (1953), is highly evocative of the postwar years, as well as recalling the characters' wartime experiences. Random Commentary (1966), published after Whipple's death, is subtitled Books and Journals Kept from 1925 Onwards and is compiled from her working notebooks. It contains fascinating glimpses of her earliest successes as an author, as well as the trials and concerns of day-to-day life, and the second half is composed of her impressions of wartime life, imbued with Whipple's charming personality.

BARBARA WHITTON (1921-      )
(pseudonym of Hazel Chitty)
Author of only one wartime novel, Green Hands (1943), a rather gung-ho portrayal of a group of girls in the Women's Land Army during World War II. The book was presumably a fair success, as it went through at least seven printings, but it was never reprinted and Whitton apparently published no more fiction. Not the strongest of wartime fiction, perhaps, but quite entertaining if you're interested in the Land Army (and if you can get your hands on a copy). Whitton is apparently still alive and living in a retirement home—one hopes she would enjoy being included here.

(née Harland)
Wife of art critic and historian Reginald Wilenski; the British Library lists only one title for her—Table Two (1942)—but it’s an intriguing one, set during the Blitz, about a group of elderly women translators in the Ministry of Foreign Intelligence. Barbara Pym mentions reading it in her diaries of the time.

ROMER WILSON (1891-1930)
(pseudonym of Florence Roma Muir Wilson, married name O'Brien)
Novelist, playwright, and biographer of Emily Brontë (1928), whose fiction focuses on artists and the impacts of war—in particular, If All These Young Men (1919), which the Orlando Project describes as "explor[ing] through male-female relationships the devastating intellectual, emotional, and practical effects of war." A later novel, Dragon's Blood (1926), focuses on postwar Germany and—again according to OP—"seems like a prophecy of the Nazi rise." Wilson's other titles include Martin Schüler (1918), The Death of Society (1921), The Grand Tour (1923), and Greenlow (1927). I have to admit that the recommendation of Wilson quoted on Neglected Books a few months ago doesn't make me all that excited about sampling her work, but perhaps others will have a different reaction.

AMY [LUCY] WOODWARD (1883-1974)
(née Temple)
Children's author and (possibly) novelist; titles include The Treasure Cave (1931), The Two Adventurers (1934), Mrs. Bunch's Caravan (1940), The Serpents (1947), and The Haunted Headland (1953); somewhat intiguing for possible (?) wartime content is her 1943 title Life Is Sweet: The Intimate Diary of an Author's Wife (1943).

VIRGINIA WOOLF (1882-1941)
(née Stephen)
A central figure in British literature, known for novels such as Mrs. Dalloway (1925), To the Lighthouse (1927), Orlando (1928), and The Waves (1931), and for her voluminous diaries and letters. Many of her early works deal prominently with World War I, including Jacob's Room (1922) and Mrs. Dalloway (1925), which includes a traumatized ex-soldier among its cast. She wrote two very famous long essays, A Room of One’s Own (1929), about the difficulties for women of being creative artists, and Three Guineas (1938), a passionate condemnation of war and fascism. Woolf's final letters and diary entries are revealing about the war and its traumatic effect on her, which probably played a role in her suicide, and her musings about the war in "Thoughts on Peace in an Air Raid" (1940) are also fascinating. Woolf's final novel, Between the Acts (1941), published posthumously, is set at a village pageant just before the outbreak of war. The approach of war remains muted on the surface of the novel, but is symbolically present throughout.

SUSAN WOOLFITT (1907-1978)
Memoirist and children's author, whose Escape to Adventure (1948), about youngsters having adventures on the canals of England, draws on her own experiences as a canal boat worker during World War II, recounted in her memoir Idle Women (1947).

(married name Hunt)
Author of three novels spread across more than 35 years, Wright is best known for Pilot's Wife's Tale (1942), a lightly fictionalized portrayal of her attempts to maintain a domestic life with her pilot husband during World War II, and his recovery from injuries sustained in the Battle of Britain. Wright's son Charles suggests that the book was published as a novel rather than a diary because censorship would not have allowed its details of locations and events to appear as nonfiction. Wright's other two novels are The Prophet Bird (1958), about a middle-class couple struggling in the postwar years, and A Vacant Chair (1979), a short eccentric tale involving two owners of a flower shop near Covent Garden in London.

(married names Rowdon and Shivarg)
Diarist whose World War II diaries, Love Lessons (1985) and Love Is Blue (1986), both reprinted by Virago, provide a rare view of sexually free, bohemian life during wartime (not to mention some of the only glimpses you'll ever find in this period—scattered here and there in the diaries—of gay and lesbian life in its natural habitat). Wyndham was only 17 when the war began, and she started her diary at the same time. Love Lessons focuses heavily on Wyndham's efforts to lose her virginity in the midst of the strains of war (she finally loses it the day after the first air-raid on London). It's certainly not for the strait-laced, but it's full of youthful energy and charm, and the ways in which her sexual awakening gets tied up with the dangers and the fragility of life in wartime are quite fascinating. Love Is Blue continues her diaries through the second half of the war, when Wyndham had become a WAAF. A third volume, Anything Goes (1992), continues her story into the post-war years, and Dawn Chorus (2004) is a memoir of her eccentric childhood (which certainly helps to explain her free love, live and let live attitudes which were so much before their time). The Mitford Society did a lovely post about Wyndham last year, complete with absolutely delicious photos I hadn't seen before.

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

My life in books...

At long last, the final section of the War List will be coming along later today. But in the meantime I have to direct your attention—if you haven't already noticed it—to today's entry in Simon's My Life in Books series at Stuck-in-a-Book, which features none other than yours truly. 

You'll find some shocking revelations about my early life as a middlebrow (okay, shocking might be stretching it, but they are certainly revelations), and be sure to check out all the other entries in this series. It's a great opportunity to find some fabulous new blogs to follow. I know I've discovered some fellow bloggers that I'd never encountered before, and I've learned more about some old favorites.

A big thanks to Simon for inviting me to participate!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014


The final part of the War List will be coming along shortly (I promise), but in the meantime, in time for Thanksgiving (that American holiday where we take a nice long weekend from work in order, primarily, to pig out and begin our Christmas shopping, and only secondarily to remember the historical significance of the day), I have to share the fact that I am very thankful that the next update to my Overwhelming List has now gone live.

At last.

This update contains 336 new authors, bringing the grand total to a rather astonishing 1,427 British women who published fiction or memoir during the early to mid-twentieth century. Who would ever have imagined?! I don't think I would have dreamed that so many authors of either sex could have been publishing in any single 50 year period.

Since most of my previous updates have contained in the neighborhood of 100 new authors or fewer, an update of more than triple that size required unprecedented levels of research and (particularly) logistical complication. I managed to make myself quite befuddled and confused at times. And that's not to mention the usual disproportionate number of hours spent obsessing over whether I could possibly hope to lay my hot little hands on some of the intriguing books these women published.

Of course, it was entirely my fault that the update burgeoned to such an unmanageable girth. If I had gotten my act together earlier, instead of merely continuing to add more and more writers without ever doing the work involved to post them, then it never would have happened. Be that as it may. At any rate, it's posted now, and the new downloadable PDF of the complete list (an intimidating 238 pages long) is now linked from each of the list sections or from right here. You may also note that the list is now divided into 10 sections instead of only 6. It does keep outgrowing its space.

In addition to the sheer volume of writers on the list, it also increased substantially in length because of an improvement (??) I had been wrestling with for some time. I've now added cross-references for all of the known pseudonyms or alternate names under which the authors actually published. Although generally I list authors under the names by which they are best known, whether that be a pseudonym or a real name in each specific case, there are a few difficulties here and there. For example, authors who are well-known under more than one pseudonym. I chose to list such authors under their real names, but how many readers would immediately recognize the name Eleanor Hibbert as opposed to the substantial number who know of one or more of her alter-egos, which include Philippa Carr, Victoria Holt, and Jean Plaidy? And what of Edith Pargeter, who wrote the novels most relevant to this blog under her own name, but who is surely better known to a much larger audience as mystery writer Ellis Peters?

I originally created an entirely separate list of these names and planned to post it on its own. Then I kept putting it off and putting it off, and I think this was because it just didn't seem terribly useful in that form. So I've bitten the bullet and merged all the cross-references into the main list. It makes the list even longer and more overwhelming, but it ultimately seems cleaner and more useful.

Meanwhile, if I were to blame anyone specifically for the headaches I've suffered over this update, surely it would be Sue Sims and Hilary Clare, whose magnificent "Book," The Encyclopaedia of Girls' School Stories (2000), accounts for 248 out of the 336 authors being added. I'll be posting several more detailed "highlights" posts about these authors, singling out some of the ones that particularly caught my eye, fleshing out some of the other work that many of the authors did apart from school stories, and including some choice examples of the genre's lovely cover art. Apart from those supplemental tidbits, of course, I won't even begin to approximate the wealth of information offered in their wonderful book, so if you're already a fan or are just intrigued by some of the titles you'll see here, you owe it to yourself to get a copy—and I understand that an updated (and more affordable) edition is in the works from Girls Gone By!

Of the remaining authors being added, a good many actually came from readers of this blog. A while back I posted some tantalizing photos of two bookshops, in Wells-next-the-Sea and Sheringham respectively, sent to me by Tina Brooker (and taken by her husband David). Those pics were such luscious high-resolution that it was possible to pick out most of the titles and authors on the shelves, with the result that I was able to find a dozen or more new authors for my list just by vicariously "browsing" the shop shelves. That's in addition to several more authors that Tina found in her own quest for obscure titles and writers of interest and which she kindly shared with me. Thank you for all your help, as always, Tina!

John Herrington's brilliant and tenacious research—and his generosity in sharing all that he discovers—has also resulted in great improvements in the accuracy and level of detail of several dozen of the authors on my list. He's tracked down birth, marriage, and death records for numerous authors who were previously untraced, and corrected several that had been erroneously identified. He has also provided me with quite a number of brand new authors that he's come across in his research. Not to mention that he's always game to field my off-the-wall questions about authors no one has heard of. Thanks very much for all of this hard work, John!

Numerous other readers have also offered up suggestions of authors they've come across that might fit my list, or have provided assistance in other ways (including scans of rare book covers—thank you, Lisa!), or have shared their personal knowledge of the books of writers I know little or nothing about. I thank all of you as well, and can't wait for your next emails or comments.

I should also point out here—as much as it pains me to remove people from the Overwhelming List—that I did reluctantly have to delete three authors. Mrs. Frank Clapperton turned out to be a New Zealander, mystery writer Nancy Rutledge proved undeniably American, and Mabel Louise Eades, upon further research, was clearly Australian. But hopefully there were more than enough new authors added to make up for the loss of these three no-doubt-interesting, but alas not British, authors.

I foresee a whole slew of new posts to follow, highlighting various interesting authors who have been freshly added to the list—and who could, quite possibly, end up reviewed here at some point in the future. I'm quite excited by some of them and can't resist sharing what I've found. So if you find my perverse obsession with authors and books that are as hard to track down as an Abbott's booby irritating or tedious or pointless (or all three, which I readily admit is entirely possible), then brace yourself. But also bear with me, because I have some fun (I hope) reviews to share with you before long, including at least one Christmas-related mystery which is, shocker of shockers, actually in print and readily available. Amazing!

So, the completion of this update is one thing I'm thankful for this year. Of course, there are numerous others in my personal life—first and foremost, as always, being Andy, who makes me feel incredibly lucky every single day, and who tolerates my eternal babbling about books and authors he couldn't care less about.

And I am also very thankful to you, dear readers, whose interest and support has made me even more obsessed with my project than I was when I began. Thank you for all of your comments, emails, and for reading what I put post here (even when some of it is undoubtedly drivel)!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 24, 2014

THE WAR LIST (L-R) (updated 5/15/2016)

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British women writing about war, 1910-1960

Below is part three of my compilation focused on the war-themed writings of British women. Pulling this section together provided me with another interesting array of old favorites, writers I've meant to read but haven't quite got around to, and intriguing unknowns.

In the first category, for me, are treasured favorites like Marghanita Laski (one of Persephone's greatest rediscoveries, in my humble opinion), Ursula Orange (my own favorite rediscovery), Edith Olivier, Winifred Peck (with whom I am currently obsessed), and the incomparable Barbara Pym.

In the second category—those authors I am vowing to read sooner rather than later—are authors like Janet Laing, Lorna Lewis, and Rosalind Murray (whose World War I novel, The Happy Tree, was just reprinted by Persephone).

And among the intriguing unknowns, will one of my new favorites be Sarah Broom MacNaughton or Christine Orr? Or perhaps Naomi Royde-Smith? It remains to be seen.

Hopefully you'll find some of each category on this list as well. 

JANET LAING (1870-1953)
(née Carstairs)
Author of eight light popular novels 1903-1929, including The Wizard's Aunt (1903), The Borderlanders (1904), Before the Wind (1918), The Man with the Lamp (1919), Wintergreen (1921), The Honeycombers (1922), The Moment More (1924), and The Villa Jane (1929). Before the Wind appears to be an energetic comedy about a young girl serving as companion to two eccentric women in wartime Scotland, while Wintergreen deals with a middle-aged servant who, having survived the sinking of the Lusitania, decides to begin a new life in the immediate postwar period.

MARGARET LANE (1906-1994)
(married names Wallace and Hastings)
Biographer, children’s author, and novelist, known for biographies of Beatrix Potter and the Brontës, and for novels including Faith, Hope, No Charity (1935, winner of the Prix Femina-Vie Heureuse), At Last the Island (1937), A Crown of Convolvulus (1954). and A Calabash of Diamonds (1961). Where Helen Lies (1944) provides polished romantic melodrama (from the sound of a contemporary review) set against the backdrop of the war, and Walk into My Parlor (1941), about a bogus spiritualist, was published during the war and is set in London, but could be set in earlier years.

(full name Esther Pearl Laski, married name Howard)
A major Persephone rediscovery, Laski wrote six diverse novels—Love on the Supertax (1944), To Bed with Grand Music (1946), Tory Heaven (1948, inexplicably published in the US as Toasted English), Little Boy Lost (1949), The Village (1952), and The Victorian Chaise-Longue (1953). All but the last of these deal explicitly with the war and its aftermath. Love on the Supertax is a light tale of class and the black market, while To Bed with Grand Music, originally published pseudonymously, is a darker tale of a young wife whose husband is serving abroad, whose boredom leads her into a series of affairs. Tory Heaven is a rollicking satire of the class system, told via a group of castaways rescued after the war, who find that the old class distinctions have now been codified as law. Little Boy Lost is about a father searching for his missing son in postwar France, and The Village (my personal favorite of Laski's novels) is about the aftermath of the war's breakdown of class relations, in the form of two families—an upper crust family and that of their former housekeeper—who have to come to terms with being united by marriage.

NELLA LAST (1889-1968)
(née Lord)
Housewife who wrote for Mass Observation; her World War II diaries, published as Nella Last's War (1981), are important records of home front life. Her diaries of the postwar years have also been published, as Nella Last's Peace (2008) and Nella Last in the 1950s (2010). Last's diaries are particularly interesting in the way they bring to life how war work offered a degree of liberation and purpose to women, which wasn't always fulfilled once the war was over.

MARY LEE (dates unknown)
More research needed; author of a novel, 'It's a Great War!' Reality of Actual Experience (1929), but no other information seems to be available.

MOLLY LEFEBURE (1919-2013)
Journalist, novelist, and biographer best known for Evidence for the Crown (1954), a memoir of working in the London morgue during WWII, dramatized a few years ago as Murder on the Home Front. Lefebure returned to her war memories in writing her only novel, Blitz! (1988).

(married names Runciman and Philipps)
Now sometimes compared to Woolf or Bowen, Lehmann was seen in her lifetime as a quintessentially middlebrow writer; her novels include Dusty Answer (1927), The Weather in the Streets (1936), The Ballad and the Source (1944), and The Echoing Grove (1953). According to the Guardian, "[w]ar looms large" in her story collection, The Gypsy's Baby and Other Stories (1946). Her one wartime novel, The Ballad and the Source, was set in the years before World War I, but The Echoing Grove (1953) is very much a novel of the postwar, and includes flashbacks to the Blitz & wartime conditions.

ANITA LESLIE (1914-1985)
(married name King, aka Anne Leslie)
Successful biographer known for Jennie: The Life of Lady Randolph Churchill (1969), about Winston Churchill's mother, Leslie twice earned the French Croix de Guerre as an ambulance driver in World War II. Her sometimes harrowing experiences are described in her memoirs Train to Nowhere (1948) and A Story Half Told (1983).

DORIS LESLIE (1891-1982)
(née Oppenheim, second married name Hannay)
Author of numerous romantic and historical novels from the 1920s-1970s, including Puppets Parade (1932), Concord in Jeopardy (1938), and That Enchantress (1950). Polonaise (1943) was a success during the war, but was historical in themes. Only House in the Dust (1942) seems to qualify her for this list, and just barely at that. It too is primarily historical—my notes about it say that only about 8 pages, in which the "spunky female lead, now elderly, comes to view the ruins of her old house," are set during wartime.

LORNA LEWIS (1910?-1962)
Primarily known as a children's author, her novel Tea and Hot Bombs (1943) has gained some attention in recent years for its portrayal of the Blitz. Feud in the Factory (1944) also deals with wartime conditions. I haven't been able to track down an affordable copy of either. Others include Marriotts Go North (1949) and June Grey: Fashion Student (1953). Presumably she is the same Lorna Lewis who served as secretary and chauffeur to E. M. Delafield for a time.

(married name Deuchar, aka Herbert Tremaine)
Poet, playwright, and novelist under her own name and her pseudonym.  Her WWI play The Handmaidens of Death (1919), about women working in a munitions factory, was recently revived by the Southwark Playhouse in London. The Feet of the Young Men (1917) was intriguingly subtitled "A Domestic War-Novel" and elsewhere there is a mention of Tremaine's having written a "moving novel about unwilling conscripts," which could be this one or could be her earlier work Those Who Declined (1915, listed in Worldcat as Two Who Declined). Other titles, about which details are quite sketchy, include A Woman on the Threshold (1911), The Rose-Coloured Room (1915), Two Months (1919), The Tribal God (1921), and Bricks and Mortals (1924). Only The Tribal God seems to exist in U.S. libraries, and is also available from Google Books.

More research needed; author of six girls' novels of the 1940s and 1950s, some set in schools but most focused on mystery elements; titles include Nicolette Detects (1949)—which, as Sims and Clare put it, "uses the dregs of Second World War spy paranoia" in its tale of evil Nazis infiltrating a school—Two and a Treasure Hunt (1950), Will Madam Step This Way? (1951), Nurse Kathleen (1952), and Nicolette Finds Her (1953).

ALICE LUNT (1919-1973)
Author of three school-related stories—Secret Stepmother (1959), Jeanette's First Term (1960), and Jeanette in the Summer Term (1962)—and other children's fiction; Sims & Clare report that she also wrote adult novels, but I was unable to locate them—perhaps under a pseudonym? Her novels Tomorrow the Harvest (1955) and Eileen of Redstone Farm (1964) are based on her experiences in the Women's Land Army during World War II.

(aka D. J. Cotman)
A popular poet in her day, Lyon wrote in part about her disabilities as a result of illness and injuries from the Blitz (a bus she was on was caught in an bomb blast and her leg severely injured, finally having to be amputated just before the end of the war, and she was further crippled by both diabetes and arthritis). She also worked with Anna Freud caring for children traumatized by war. Lyon wrote two novels, The Buried Stream (1929) and, pseudonymously, The Spreading Tree (1931).

ROSE MACAULAY (1881-1958)
Novelist, travel writer, and essayist, Macaulay has the distinction of having written important novels about both World Wars. Noncombatants and Others (1916) was a highly-acclaimed pacifist novel during World War I, and The World My Wilderness (1950) is a lovely story of post-World War II youth, focused on Barbary, a young girl who has spent much of youth with the Maquis (French resistance guerillas) in occupied France and must now adapt to normal life among the ruins of London. Macaulay's early novel What Not: A Prophetic Comedy (1919) was a satire based in part on her own experiences as a civil servant during World War I, and her later short story, "Miss Anstruther's Letters," deals with Macaulay's own experience of being bombed out during World War II and her loss of a life's collection of letters, books and papers. Various other articles and essays deal either directly or peripherally with wartime issues. Macaulay is also known for her hilarious final novel, The Towers of Trebizond (1958), about tourism, culture shock and religious doubt. After her death, several volumes of her letters appeared, including Letters to a Sister (1964), which covers the World War II years and includes letters focused on wartime conditions. Although Macaulay's non-fiction work The Pleasure of Ruins (1954) seems to focus entirely on historical locations and not the ruins that remained a part of the London landscape for many years after the war, one wonders if the latter played a role in inspiring or at least informing the book.

JEAN MACGIBBON (1913-2002)
(née Howard, aka Jean Howard)
Intriguing author of one highly-acclaimed novel for adults, When the Weather's Changing (1945), about the events of a farmer's wife's summer. Although this takes place as the war is drawing to a close, it seems that the war remains more or less in the background. MacGibbon then suffered a nervous breakdown and thereafter turned mainly to children's fiction, including the school story Pam Plays Doubles (1962). Her late memoir I Meant to Marry Him (1984) details her decision at age thirteen that she would one day marry James MacGibbon, a prominent London publisher, and covers their life in wartime and her breakdown, which apparently occurred on VE Day.

HELEN MACINNES (1907-1985)
(married name Highet)
Bestselling author of spy novels. Several of her earliest novels deal with World War II, while later works focus more on Cold War themes. The acclaimed Assignment in Brittany (1942) and While Still We Live (1944) deal with the French and Polish resistance respectively. Above Suspicion (1941) and Horizon (1945) are also set during the war. Some later works, such as Pray for a Brave Heart (1955) and The Salzburg Connection (1968), deal with wartime secrets that still provoke adventures. MacInnes also wrote two lighter, humorous works—Rest and Be Thankful (1949) and Home Is the Hunter (1964).

(married names Donckier de Donceel and de Chabannes la Palice)
Journalist, novelist, and critic, author of I Came Out of France (1941), an acclaimed first-hand account of the Nazi invasion of France and her own escape back to England, about which the Orlando Project said that it "vividly describes her own adventures and tribulations: crushed in a car whose springs were dragging on the ground, walking deserted roads alone in the black of night, losing her identity papers under the rubble of bombing, nearly being lynched as a spy by a group of peasants and Belgian women refugees, struggling by fair means or foul to obtain from a succession of goaded and frantic petty bureaucrats some papers to enable her to leave first southern France, then Spain, then Portugal." A later work of journalism, The Mouth of the Sword (1948), dealt with the Middle East in the aftermath of the war. Mackworth later wrote two novels, Spring's Green Shadow (1952) and Lucy's Nose (1992).

A prominent biographer of William and Dorothy Wordsworth and of William Hazlitt, Maclean also published several works of fiction, including Seven for Cordelia (1941), Three for Cordelia (1943), The Tharrus Three (1943), and Farewell to Tharrus (1944). I know little about these works, but one source called The Tharrus Tree "[a] heart-warming story of human kindness in a world at war."

Nurse, diarist, and novelist of "intelligent, humorous, mildly feminist fiction" (according to OCEF), including The Fortune of Christina M'Nab (1901), The Three Miss Graemes (1908), and Four-Chimneys (1912). Macnaughton was a nurse during the Boer War and World War I, and was on her way to Russia where she intended to provide medical assistance when she fell ill. She returned to England, but died soon after. She wrote about her wartime experiences in A Woman's Diary of the War (1915), My War Experiences in Two Contintents (1919), and her final, unfinished memoir, My Canadian Memories (1920).

(aka Manning Coles, aka Francis Gaite [both with Cyril Henry Coles])
Popular author (with Coles) of humorous mystery novels featuring Tommy Hambledon, beginning with Drink to Yesterday (1940), and of several satirical ghost stories starting with Brief Candles (1954). Several books in the Hambledon series take place during World War II and in its immediate aftermath. Pray Silence (1940, published in the U.S. as A Toast to Tomorrow) begins in 1933 and traces the rise of the Nazis and preparations for war. Without Lawful Authority (1943) takes place around the time of the Munich Crisis. Green Hazard (1945) and The Fifth Man (1946) are spy stories set during the thick of the war, and A Brother for Hugh (1947, published in the U.S. as With Intent to Deceive) takes place immediately after the war and deals with ex-Nazi criminals. [Thanks to Jerri Chase for providing me with these details.]

(married name Smith, aka O. M. Manning, aka Jacob Morrow)
Novelist best known for two semi-autobiographical trilogies about a young couple in World War II, The Balkan Trilogy—comprised of The Great Fortune (1960), The Spoilt City (1962), and Friends and Heroes (1965)—and The Levant Trilogy (comprised of The Danger Tree (1977), The Battle Lost and Won (1978), and The Sum of Things (1980), collectively known as "Fortunes of War" after the title of a BBC dramatization. Her earlier novels included Artist Among the Missing (1949), about a painter scarred by his war experiences. Her story collection, Growing Up (1948), includes several stories written during and immediately after the war—in particular, "Twilight of the Gods," set in 1946, evokes the exhaustion of the immediate postwar.

(married names Brewer and James)
A trail-blazing journalist for the Daily Mail, Marchant also published two significant books on the war—Women and Children Last: A Woman Reporter's Account of the Battle of Britain (1941) and The Home Front (1942); she had earlier made her name reporting on the Spanish Civil War.

ANNE MARRECO (1912-1982)
(née Acland-Troyte, earlier married names Grosvenor, Hoare, and Wignall, aka Alice Acland)
Best known for her biography The Rebel Countess: The Life and Times of Constance Markievicz (1967), she also published eight novels 1954-1975, most using her pseudonym; titles include Templeford Park (1954), A Stormy Spring (1955), The Boat Boy (1964), The Corsican Ladies (1974), and The Secret Wife (1975). A Person of Discretion (1958), one of her Acland novels, is about three sisters from Brussels who get mixed up with the black market and the Resistance movement late in World War II.

MONICA MARSDEN (dates unknown)
(née ?????)
Author of numerous children's adventure tales and mysteries, including one—The Chartfield School Mystery (1959)—set in a school; others include Night Adventure (1941), Lost, Stolen or Strayed (1943), The Abbey Ruins (1944), and The Manor House Mystery (1950). Presumably, Enemy Agent (1942) and perhaps some of her other wartime works incorporated the war into their adventures.

EILEEN MARSH (1900-1948)
(married name Heming, aka numerous pseudonyms, including Dorothy Carter, James Cahill, Eileen Heming, Rupert Jardine, and Mary St. Helier)
Enormously prolific writer of children's and adult fiction, including adventure stories, Mistress of the Air (1942), We Lived in London (1942), about a working class family in the Blitz, and additional wartime novels such as A Walled Garden (1943) and Eight Over Essen (1943).

(full name Elvira Sibyl Marie Mathews, née Laughton)
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).

ANNE MAYBURY (c1901-1993)
(pseudonym of Edith Arundel, married name Buxton, aka Edith Arundel, aka Katherine Troy)
Author of romance and romantic suspense novels; early works include Love Triumphant (1932), Catch at a Rainbow (1935), Arise, Oh Sun (1940), and A Lady Fell in Love (1943), though she is best known for late novels like The Minerva Stone (1968) and Ride a White Dolphin (1971). Arise, Oh Sun, at least, seems to have some wartime themes. Other wartime titles include All Enchantments Die (1941), To-Day We Live (1942), A Lady Fell in Love (1943), Journey Into Morning (1944), and The Valley of Roses (1945).

(married name de Sélincourt)
Primarily known as a poet (and mother-in-law of Christopher Robin Milne), McCleod also published two novels, Graduation (1918), about the coming of age of a young woman, and Towards Love (1923), about a conscientious objector in WWI; contemporary reviews found them humorless and sentimental.

CLARA MILBURN (1883–1961)
(née Bagnall)
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.

(full name Isa Constance Miles, née Nicoll, aka Marjory Damon, aka Marjory Royce)
Journalist and author of children's books (including some with Barbara Euphan Todd) and at least two adult novels—Lady Richard in the Larder (1932) and Coffee, Please (1933), about a future in which coffee-making is a precious skill. Her WWII diary was published in 2013 as Mrs. Miles's Diary, and Lyn at I Prefer Reading discussed it late last year.

BETTY MILLER (1910-1965)
Author of seven novels—The Mere Living (1933), Sunday (1934), Portrait of the Bride (1936), Farewell Leicester Square (1941), A Room in Regent's Park (1942), On the Side of the Angels (1945), and The Death of the Nightingale (1948)—only two of which have ever been reprinted. On the Side of the Angels, first revived by Virago in the 1980s and now avalable from Capuchin, deals powerfully with gender roles as revealed by wartime experiences. Her earlier novel, Farewell Leicester Square, was written several years before the war, but was rejected by her publisher. Its exploration of anti-Semitism in the British film industry and in larger society became more urgently relevant with the rise of the Nazis, however, and the book was finally published in 1941. It is now available from Persephone. Miller's other novels of the war years, A Room in Regent's Park and The Death of the Nightingale both appear to take place before the war.

(née Haldane)
Politically engaged author whose writings about war were often historical, such as The Conquered (1923) and her best-known works, The Corn King and the Spring Queen (1931) and The Bull Calves. The Blood of the Martyrs (1939), according to ODNB, "attempted to draw parallels between Nero's treatment of early Christians and Hitler's persecution of the Jews." Her wartime diary, begun for Mass Observation in 1939, was published as Among You Taking Notes (1985) and "reveals what is both a vivid social document and a record of Mitchison's own reactions to the war she hated but knew must be fought" (ODNB).

NANCY MITFORD (1904-1973)
(married name Rodd)
Novelist and biographer, known for the popular social comedies The Pursuit of Love (1945) and Love in a Cold Climate (1949), and for successful biographies such as Madame de Pompadour (1953), Voltaire in Love (1957), and The Sun King (1966). Pigeon Pie (1940) is a rather zany spy story set in the earliest days of World War II.

ALICE MOLONY (dates unknown)
Illustrator and author of a single children's novel, Lion's Crouch (1944), "an exciting story about spies in Cornwall", for which she also provided illustrations; she also illustrated two works by Kitty Barne.

DOROTHEA MOORE (1880-1933)
Prolific author of early girls' school and girls' adventure books, including Terry the Girl-Guide (1912), Septima, Schoolgirl (1915), Wanted, An English Girl (1916)—set in Germany during WWI—A Nest of Malignants (1919), Smuggler's Way (1924), and Sara to the Rescue (1932). Books to Treasure reprinted Wanted, An English Girl in 2014.

EDITH MARY MOORE (1873-c1938)
Author of philosophical novels with socialist leanings, exploring gender roles, war, and urban life. Her works were well-reviewed at the time, but have since been largely forgotten. Her novels Teddy R.N.D. (1917) and The Blind Marksman (1920) deal with World War I, though the Orlando Project notes that she had to rely entirely on her imagination for her battle scenes. Other titles include The Lure of Eve (1909), A Wilful Widow (1913), and The Defeat of Woman (1935).

(pseudonym of Evelyn May Clowes, married names Wiehe and Bowles, aka Jack Heron)
Prolific novelist and travel writer. Nicola Beauman, in her book A Very Great Profession, singled out The Family (1915) and The Park Wall (1916) for their domestic interest. Other novels include A Ship of Solace (1912), The Rose of Youth (1915), Short Shipments (1922), and Mrs. Van Kleek (1933), as well as a memoir, Sinabada (1937). Although actively publishing during World War I, Mordaunt seems to have been solidly focused on Victorian settings in her fiction of that time. Late in life, however, during World War II, Mordaunt published Blitz Kids (1941), which appears to have been a humorous look at children in wartime. She published several more novels just before her death as well, about which information is sparse—it's possible that Here Too Is Valour (1941), Tropic Heat (1941), This Was Our Life (1942), and/or To Sea! To Sea! (1943) also deal with the war.

JOAN MORGAN (1905-2004)
Silent film actress turned novelist, who wrote Camera! (1940), a portrait of the early British film industry, Citizen of Westminster (1940), set at London’s Dolphin Square, Ding Dong Dell (1943), about wartime refugees, and The Lovely and the Loved (1948).

Author of nearly 70 light (and apparently very successful) novels 1921-1970, described as romances but perhaps a bit Cadell-esque; Red Poppies (1928) is about a woman spy in WWI; The Last of the Lovells (1928), Countisbury: A Romance of South Devon (1933), and An Open Secret (1939) are interconnected; and her dustjackets are often irresistible. Some of her WWII-era novels, such as The Quentins (1940), Castle Ormonde (1940), Miss England (1942), Sea Spray (1943), and Knight Without Glory (1945), may well have wartime themes, but I don't yet have details.

PATRICIA MOYES (1923-2000)
(née Pakenham-Walsh, later married name Haszard)
Mystery writer whose novels usually feature Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Henry Tibbett and his wife Emmy, whose close relationship add depth to the series; titles include Dead Men Don't Ski (1959), The Sunken Sailor (1961), Murder a la Mode (1963), and The Curious Affair of the Third Dog (1973). Though all of her works appeared well after World War II, her 1965 mystery Johnny Under Ground (1965) makes prominent retrospective use of Emmy's wartime experiences (based on Moyes' own in the Radar Section of the British Women's Auxiliary Air Force), as Emmy's attendance at a reunion of her wartime colleagues leads Henry to investigate the suspicious death of a Battle of Britain pilot.

Author of four early novels, including The Happy Tree (1926, a Persephone reprint), about World War I, as well as Moonseed (1911), Unstable Ways (1914), and Hard Liberty (1929); in later years, she published books about religion and faith, including The Good Pagan's Failure (1939).

NORAH MYLREA (1904-1994)
(married name Easey)
Author of six girls' school stories, most with thriller elements, as well as several other children's books; titles include Lisbeth of Browndown (1934), Browndown Again! (1936), Unwillingly to School (1938), That Mystery Girl (1939), Lorrie's First Term (1940), and Spies at Candover (1941). The last is set in an evacuated school.

(née Nicholson Graves, married names Clifford and Crosse)
Daughter of Robert Graves and artist Nancy Nicholson; journalist and author of Kiss the Girls Goodbye: On Life in the Women's Services (1944), regarding women's roles during WWII, and co-author of a travel book about the Soviet Union, The Sickle and the Stars (1948); she and her second husband, Reuters manager Patrick Crosse, lived in Rome for many years.

BARBARA NIXON (1908-????)
(married name Dobb)
Wife of Cambridge economist Maurice Dobb and actress in the Cambridge Festival Theatre, Nixon was an air raid warden during the Blitz and wrote dramatically of her experiences in Raiders Overhead (1943); the British Library credits her with another title as well, Jinnifer of London (1948).

BARBARA NOBLE (1907-2001)
Head of the London office of Doubleday for many years, Noble published six novels of her own, including the powerful Doreen (1946, reprinted by Persephone), about a young evacuee in World War II, which makes excellent use of Noble's interest in child psychology. The House Opposite (1943) deals with an illicit love affair in London during the Blitz. Noble's other novels are The Years That Take the Best Away (1929), The Wave Breaks (1932), Down by the Salley Gardens (1935), and Another Man's Life (1952).

MARY NORTON (1903-1992)
(née Pearson)
Best known for the Borrowers series of children’s books (1952-1982), Norton’s early novels The Magic Bed-knob (1943) and Bonfires and Broomsticks (1947), are of interest to me first because they focus on a spinster who is learning to be a witch, but also because they are set during wartime. The former includes a scene in London, where the main character and her young charges get into trouble in the blackout. These novels were (more or less) the source of Disney's Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Virago issued some of her other work as Bread and Butter Stories.

KATE O'BRIEN (1897-1974)
Playwright and novelist who often focused on Irish family life; novels (most available from Virago) include Without My Cloak (1931), The Anteroom (1934), Mary Lavelle (1936), The Land of Spices (1941), The Last of Summer (1943), That Lady (1946), and The Flower of May (1953). Of O'Brien's wartime titles, The Land of Spices is set in the early years of the 20th century and That Lady is set even further back in history. Only The Last of Summer seems to make use of the war at all—set during a two week period in late summer of 1939, just as the war is beginning and causing dilemmas for the characters of its social drama.

JANE OLIVER (1903-1970)
(pseudonym of Helen Christine Rees, née Easson Evans, aka Joan Blair [with Ann Stafford])
Author of more than two dozen novels, most historical, from the 1930s-1970s, including Tomorrow's Woods (1932), Mine is the Kingdom (1937), The Hour of the Angel (1942), In No Strange Land (1944), Crown for a Prisoner (1953), and Queen Most Fair (1959). The Hour of the Angel is a Blitz novel, whose main character's husband is in the RAF. In No Strange Land appears to be primarily historical but perhaps end with the war? Hartley says of it: "Sometimes it seems as though all roads must lead to war and even a novel starting in Biblical times finishes in the RAF." Oliver's concern for the RAF was personal—her husband, John Llewellyn Rhys, had been in the RAF and had been killed in 1940. She later initiated the literary prize bearing his name.

EDITH OLIVIER (1872-1948)
Author of five quirky, underrated novels—The Love-Child (1927), As Far as Jane's Grandmother's (1929), The Triumphant Footman (1930), Dwarf's Blood (1931), and The Seraphim Room (1932), as well as a wonderfully odd memoir, Without Knowing Mr. Walkley (1938). In World War I, Olivier had helped to organize the Women's Land Army, for which she was appointed MBE in 1920, though sadly she does not appeared to have written about those experiences. During World War II, however, Olivier published the somewhat autobiographical Night-Thoughts of a Country Landlady (1943), a short work about the elderly Emma Nightingale's experiences and thoughts about the war. More of Olivier's reflections on the war are included in From Her Journals, 1924-1948 (1989). Happily, most of Olivier's works have now been made available again by Bello Books.

CAROLA OMAN (1897-1978)
(née Lenanton, aka C. Lenanton)
Biographer and historical novelist, known for bios of Elizabeth of Bohemia, Walter Scott, and others, Oman also wrote several historical novels including The Road Royal (1924), Miss Barrett's Elopement (1929), Major Grant (1931), Over the Water (1935), and Nothing to Report (1940). The last seems to be a domestic novel set in the early days of World War II.

URSULA ORANGE (1909-1955)
(married name Tindall)
Forgotten author of six novels, at least two of which are richly deserving of rediscovery. Her debut, Begin Again (1936), is an imperfect but fascinating look at the anticlimactic working and family lives of several young girls after their heady days at Oxford, and its sociological value alone—not to mention that it's quite entertaining—makes it worthy of reprinting. To Sea in a Sieve (1937) is a frothy, if rather forgettable, comedy about unconventional young love. But Tom Tiddler's Ground (1941, published in the U.S. as Ask Me No Questions), is Orange's masterpiece, a wonderfully entertaining wartime tale of a young mother evacuated to the countryside who snoops into village affairs. Reminiscent of D. E. Stevenson or Margery Sharp at their best, it's an outrage that it remains out of print (imho, of course!). Orange's follow-up, Have Your Cake (1942), has a tantalizing title but is virtually nonexistent outside of British libraries and I can find no details about it. Company in the Evening (1944), also about discordant housemates in wartime, is certainly interesting in its own right, but it's completely different in tone, a bit darker and with the sense of fatigue and jadedness common in fiction from late in the war—with the result that it's neither as entertaining nor as cohesive as Tom Tiddler's Ground. Portrait of Adrian (1945), described by one source as a "psychological drama," rounded out Orange's novels. She seems to have dealt with severe depression in the years after, and sadly died by her own hand in 1955.

(née Cutting)
Biographer of prominent Italian figures, who remained in Italy during World War II, helping refugee children and later escaped Allied prisoners of war, a time she discussed in her memoir, War in Val d'Orcia (1947); she also published one children's book, Giovanni and Jane (1950).

Poet, playwright, and author of more than a dozen mostly Scottish-themed novels, including The Glorious Thing (1919), Kate Curlew (1922), The House of Joy (1926), Hogmanay (1928), Artificial Silk (1929), Hope Takes the High Road (1935), and Flying Scotswoman (1936). The Glorious Thing is set in Scotland during World War I, and is discussed a bit here.

(full name Mary Patricia Panter-Downes, married name Robinson)
Novelist, biographer, and author of New Yorker’s "Letter from London" from 1939 to 1984. Panter-Downes wrote five novels, all of which she later disowned except for the last, One Fine Day (1947), available from Virago, which evokes Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway in lushly detailing a single ordinary day in the life of a woman—with the difference that Panter-Downes' story is set in the immediate aftermath of World War II. Her charming and fascinating New Yorker pieces from the war years were collected as London War Notes 1939-1945 (1971), which happily will be reprinted by Persephone in early 2015. She also published numerous short stories in the New Yorker, many of which were collected by Persephone as Good Evening, Mrs. Craven: The Wartime Stories (1999) and Minnie's Room: The Peacetime Stories (2002).

(aka Ellis Peters, aka Peter Benedict, aka Jolyon Carr, aka John Redfern)
Novelist and author of the Brother Cadfael and George Felse mysteries. Her early novel She Goes to War (1942) is based on her own experiences in the WRNS and paints an often vivid and detailed picture. Her trilogy The Eighth Champion of Christendom—comprised of The Lame Crusade (1945), Reluctant Odyssey (1946), and Warfare Accomplished (1947)—follows a young man from an English village who experiences warfare and returns home a changed man. Some of Pargeter's later novels, such as Lost Children (1951) and Means of Grace (1956) make use of postwar moods and characters rebuilding their lives.

(née Marshall)
A 20th century Samuel Pepys, Partridge is known for her diaries, beginning with A Pacifist's War (1978), detailing her wartime experiences with husband Ralph Partridge, as the two faced hostility and resistance from strangers and friends alike due to their pacifism. Subsequent volumes of the diaries (seven in all if my count is correct) follow her life all the way up to 1975. Partridge's memoir, Love in Bloomsbury: Memories (1981), is wonderfully entertaining, and in part details the complicated relationship of the Partridges with painter Dora Carrington and writer Lytton Strachey. She also published a memoir of Persephone author Julia Strachey in 1983.

WINIFRED PECK (1882-1962)
(née Knox)
Novelist whose humorous House-Bound (1942, reprinted by Persephone) is about a woman surviving without servants in wartime Edinburgh; other works include Bewildering Cares: A Week in the Life of a Clergyman's Wife (1940), a wonderful humorous work (one of my favorite reads this year) set just at the beginning of the war. Other wartime novels such as Tranquillity (1944) and There Is a Fortress (1945) may deal with the war as well, but information about them is sparse. Bewildering Cares is being reprinted in the Furrowed Middlebrow imprint by Dean Street Press.

K. M. PEYTON (1929-     )
(pseudonym of Kathleen Wendy Herald Peyton, née Herald, aka Kathleen Herald) (children's)
Children’s author whose first book, Sabre, the Horse from the Sea (1947), appeared when she was 18; best known for the Flambards series, beginning with Flambards (1967), set in a crumbling manor house in the early 20th century. Among other historical events, these books also follow their characters through the traumas of World War I. Several of Peyton’s titles have been reprinted by Fidra.

SHEILA PIM (1909-1995)
Also a popular writer on gardening, Pim is best known for her four mystery novels, in particular Common or Garden Crime (1945), which vividly portrays wartime life in an Irish village; the others are A Brush With Death (1950), Creeping Venom (1950), and A Hive of Suspects (1952).

(née Malan)
Known now for her novel A House in the Country (1944, reprinted by Persephone), set during World War II, Playfair also wrote nine other works of fiction, some of which might also include wartime themes, including Storm in a Village (1940), Men Without Armour (1946), The Desirable Residence (1947), and The Nettlebed (1952).

DORIS POCOCK (1890-1974)
Poet and 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.

JESSIE POPE (1868-1941)
(married name Lenton)
Poet, humorist, editor of Robert Noonan's The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists, and author of two novels, The Tracy Tubbses (1914), a humorous tale of married life, and Love on Leave (1919), about a woman's love for an ANZAC soldier; she aroused controversy with the overt propaganda of her WWI poems.

EVADNE PRICE (ca. 1896-1985)
(married names Fletcher and Attiwill, aka Helen Zenna Smith)
Children's author, playwright, TV astrologer, and novelist; author of the vivid World War I novel Not So Quiet: Stepdaughters of War (1930), the popular Jane stories for children (which include a couple of wartime volumes), and romance novels including Society Girl, Glamour Girl, and Air Hostess in Love. Four novels subsequent to Not So Quiet deal with postwar life—Women of the Aftermath (1931), Shadow Women (1932), Luxury Ladies (1933), and They Lived with Me (1934).

VIRGINIA PYE (1901-1994)
(née Kennedy)
Sister of novelist Margaret Kennedy; children's author who specialized in holiday adventure stories; titles include Red-Letter Holiday (1940), Half-Term Holiday (1943), The Prices Return (1946), The Stolen Jewels (1948), and Holiday Exchange (1953). She also wrote one adult story collection, St. Martin's Summer (1930). Of her children's fiction, Pye once wrote, "I wrote my children's books during and after World War II. They have, therefore, the background of war time and post-war England and in this sense they are dated." But I know I'm not alone in preferring exactly that kind of "datedness" in my reading.

Much loved author of humorous novels of domestic and social life, often revolving around church and/or scholars, including Some Tame Gazelle (1950), Excellent Women (1952), A Glass of Blessings (1958), and more serious late novels like Quartet in Autumn (1977) and The Sweet Dove Died (1978). Some of the early novels mention World War II and its aftereffects, but the writing she did during the war was mostly only published decades later. Her diaries, in particular, published in 1984, have gotten a lot of attention, but some of the previously unpublished early writings collected in Civil to Strangers (1987) also deal with the war, including two novel fragments, Home Front Novel and a "spy story," So Very Secret.

(née Llewellyn, married name Knox)
Diarist and memoirist whose WWII diaries, To War with Whitaker (1994), about her determination to follow her soldier husband into the Middle East and Africa, are much recommended by readers of this blog; she also published a memoir, The Ugly One: The Childhood Memoirs of Hermione, Countess of Ranfurly, 1913-1939 (1998).

(née Clough, later married names Phillips and Vowles [in the latter case, her husband changed his name to Phillips to match hers])
Author of poetry, plays, character studies, and apparently inaccurate memoirs, Ratcliffe was best known for her poems and sketches in Yorkshire dialect; one of her perhaps fictionalized memoirs is Mrs. Buffey in Wartime (1942).

IRENE RATHBONE (1892–1980)
Novelist best known for We That Were Young (1932), about women's war work in the First World War; the follow up, They Call it Peace (1936), is a bitter tale of women rebuilding their lives after the war; others include Susan Goes East (1929), October (1934), and The Seeds of Time (1952).

AMBER REEVES (1887-1981)
(married name Blanco White)
Author of widely varied nonfiction works, Reeves also wrote four novels about women's roles and frustrations, including The Reward of Virtue (1911), A Lady and Her Husband (1914), Helen in Love (1916), and Give and Take (1923). The last, which takes place at the end of World War I, is reportedly based on Reeves' own experiences in the Civil Service in wartime.

MARY RENAULT (1905-1983)
(pseudonym of Eileen Mary Challans)
Famous for novels of ancient Greece from The Last of the Wine (1956) to Funeral Games (1981), Renault also wrote novels with modern settings and matter-of-fact portrayals of homosexuality. This is certainly true of The Friendly Young Ladies (1944), about a lesbian couple in World War II, and The Charioteer (1953), which deals with a wounded soldier's triangular relationships with a conscientious objector and a naval officer while in a hospital in the midst of blackout and bombings. The North Face (1948), meanwhile, according to Jenny Hartley, takes the main character's predilection for rock-climbing as a symbol for life in the postwar years.

(née Robins, aka Mrs. Baillie-Reynolds)
Popular novelist whose publishing life extended from the 1880s to the 1930s; titles include The Girl from Nowhere (1910), The Notorious Miss Lisle (1911), and two rather melodramatic-sounding World War I themed novels—The Lonely Stronghold (1918), about a young bank employee who inherits a fortune and is made unhappy by it, and Also Ran (1920), about a Red Cross nurse whose love for a wounded officer is threatened by a forced marriage to another man.

JOAN [ODETTE] RICE (1919-2009)
(née Bawden)
Mother of lyricist Tim Rice; her WWII diaries were published in 2006 as Sand in My Shoes: Wartime Diaries of a WAAF; she also published numerous stories and humorous articles in the 1950s and 1960s, which have never been collected.

(née Richardson)
Wife of Edward Rich, a prominent vicar, Molly's entertaining World War II letters have been collected as A Vicarage in the Blitz: The Wartime Letters of Molly Rich 1940-1944 (2010). Lyn at I Prefer Reading discussed it in early 2014.

(née Moore, earlier married name Ackland, aka Mrs. Victor Rickard)
Prolific writer of both literary and light fiction, including detective novels; titles include A Reckless Puritan (1921), Blindfold (1922), A Bird of Strange Plumage (1927), Sorel's Second Husband (1932), and Shandon Hall (1950). The Light Above the Crossroads (1918) deals with a young man who becomes a British spy despite his conflictedness because his best friend is German. The Fire of Green Boughs (1918) is also about conflictedness, as a compassionate young woman who takes in a dying German finds herself arrested for aiding the enemy. And in The House of Courage (1919), women working in a prisoner of war camp face similar moral complexity.

(full name Evelyn Beatrice Roberts, married name Rhys)
Although best known for her poetry—especially from the World War II years—Roberts' wartime diaries, reminiscences of T. S. Eliot and the Sitwells, and short stories were also published in 2008 and sound promising. Roberts also wrote one novel during the war years, Nesta (1944), which was never published and appears to have been lost.

(pseudonym of Eileen Arbuthnot Robertson, married name Turner)
Novelist known for three early novels reprinted by Virago in the 1980s—Cullum (1928), Four Frightened People (1931), set in the Malayan jungle, and Ordinary Families (1933), a family comedy set in Suffolk. The Signpost (1943) is about a wounded RAF pilot and his relationship with a French woman in a remote Irish fishing village.

JEAN ROSS (1907-1985)
(pseudonym of Irene Dale Hewson)
Children's author and novelist; titles include Flowers Without Sun (1938), Aunt Ailsa (1944), Jania (1948), A Picnic by Wagonette (1953), The Great-Aunts (1964), and the intriguing A View of the Island: A Post-Atomic Age Fairy Tale (1965). Kate O'Brien, writing in the Spectator in 1945, said of Aunt Ailsa that it "is a book about English family life between the last war and the present time. It is like a great many such books, in being truthful, matter-of-fact, humorous and likeable. Miss Ross has a steady eye for character and an easy naturalistic way in dialogue, and a great many people will derive entertainment from her unaffected exploitation of these talents." Strangers Under Our Roof (1943) certainly sounds as though it might deal with evacuees or refugees, two popular themes during the war, but I can find little information about it.

(originally Naomi Holroyd Smith, married name Milton)
Prolific novelist, travel writer, and biographer, author of The Delicate Situation (1931), set in the 1840s, and Jane Fairfax (1940), a prequel to Austen’s Emma that mixes other characters—and their creators—into the plot; others include The Tortoiseshell Cat (1925) and All Star Cast (1936). During World War II, Royde-Smith published Outside Information (1941), a book with the voluminous subtitle, "Being a Diary of Rumours Collected by Naomi Royde Smith; Together with Letters from Others and Some Account of Events in the Life of an Unofficial Person in London and Winchester during the Months of September and October 1940." Whew! I don't yet know enough about Royde-Smith's work to tell if any of her wartime fiction, such as The Unfaithful Wife; or, Scenario for Gary (1941) or Fire-Weed (1944), might have reflected wartime concerns as well.

(pseudonym of Olive Maude Shinwell, née Seers)
Mystery writer who published only three novels—Knock, Murder, Knock! (1938), Bleeding Hooks (1940, aka The Poison Fly Murder), and Blue Murder (1942)—characterized by a wonderfully dark sense of humor. Blue Murder takes place during wartime, among an unsavory family whose members find themselves the targets of a killer.

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