Friday, March 29, 2024

Highlights of the 2024 update (3 of 4)

This post, about 13 more authors added to my main author list in my most recent update, is a bit of a catch-all. All of them are interesting in one way or another—either for their work or their connections to better known figures, but they don't have anything in particular in common with each other.

For example, I'm not certain I'll read any of JANE HUKK's three novels, all concerned to some extent with India, where she lived for more than a decade with her husband: Abdullah and His Two Strings (1926), about an Indian student at Edinburgh University who, though already married at home, falls in love with his landlady’s daughter; The Bridal Creeper (1928), in which “a young man marries out of his class, and repents in India, where he and his wife each seek suitable consolation”; and End of a Marriage (1935), about a World War I marriage between an Indian man and a Scottish woman, who vow never to meet again, but do, unexpectedly, under very different circumstances. But I thought some of you would like to know that, following her return from India, Hukk lived in Berwick. Her stepsister was none other than Anne HEPPLE, and in a 1929 interview Hepple said she was inspired to try her hand at writing because Hukk had been successful at it.

I've added LAURA WILDIG's only novel to my future British Library list. Pandora's Shocks (1927) is a farcical tale with supernatural elements, in which an impoverished scientist pays his rent by providing to his wealthy young landlady a “genie,” a man’s mind extracted from his body, with whom she has many adventures. Could there be shades of Miss Carter and the Ifrit there? Wildig was also a playwright and artist, and at least four of her plays were produced in London—Once Upon a Time (1919), Priscilla and the Profligate (1920), Punchinello (1924), and (after a considerable absence noted in the play’s reviews) The Boleyns (1951). Her other interesting tidbit is that she was part of an informal group known as The Launderers (see here), which also included a number of young actors and artists, as well as no fewer than three other authors from my list—a young Antonia White, Mary Grigs, and Naomi Jacob, the last of whom also appeared in one of Wildig’s plays.

You might think watching our idols come crashing down was a modern pastime fueled by social media, but
DOROTHY BARTLAM might have something to say about that. She was a film actress and author of a single novel, Contrary-Wise (1931), about glamorous life in Devonshire, Paris, and London. She seems to have played supporting roles in little-known films, and given up acting on her 1933 marriage, so perhaps she hardly counts as an idol, but her subsequent publicity never fails to mention her celebrity status. In 1936, she was in the divorce courts with her first husband. On the 1939 England & Wales Register, she is divorced and gives her profession as “writer”—she may have published short fiction or articles, but no more novels. And in 1949, she was in the papers, referred to as “former film actress,” for driving under the influence.

Early (pre-marriage) pic of Gertrude Landa

I'm slightly obsessed with playwright, journalist, and novelist
GERTRUDE LANDA. Much of her fiction was in collaboration with her husband, Myer Jack Landa, but her debut novel, The Case and the Cure (1901), about the romantic lives of two sisters, was a solo production. In 1908, she published a well-regarded anthology, Jewish Fairy Tales and Fables under her Aunt Naomi pseudonym. With her husband, she published four more novels, which all sound entertaining and unique. Jacob Across Jabbok (1933), which according to novelist Margaret Kennedy was an answer to the question “What does it mean to be a Jew?” She praised its good humour. Kitty Villareal (1934) was based on the true story of the life and adventures of the first Jewish peeress (see here). Chykel-Michael (1935) was widely marketed as the first truly humorous Jewish novel since Israel Zangwill's earlier work—a critic summed up "Chykel-Michael are two practical jokers of the ghetto, who find in their environment in free England an endless source of amusement and opportunity for good deeds.” And The Joy-Life (1937) deals with the unlikely friendship between a widowed “Scarlet Woman” and a pure and naïve country girl. Landa and her husband also collaborated on a number of plays, and played a significant role in encouraging British Jewish theatre. Landa was the sister of novelist Samuel Gordon and aunt of author Phyllis Gordon Demarest (included on my list). And, quite apart from her work, there is one more fascinating detail about Landa. In the annals of law, she is notable for the injunction she successfully obtained against the Jewish Chronicle, for which she had written using the Aunt Naomi pseudonym. Her legal action established that she had a right to the pseudonym she had created, and the magazine could not go on using it after her departure. The case was cited as precedent in numerous subsequent cases involving authors’ rights. 

Biographer and novelist FLAVIA GIFFARD comes to my list thanks to an alert from Simon Thomas, though her name may not immediately ring any bells for him. She published three novels under three different names. As Flavia Giffard, she published Keep Thy Wife (1931), the tragic tale of a romance between an Englishwoman and a half-Indian, half-Irish man. After her marriage, as Flavia Anderson, she published Jezebel and the Dayspring (1949), a retelling of the story of the Phoenician princess. And under the amusing pseudonym Petronella Portobello, she published How to Be a Deb's Mum (1957, published in the U.S. as Mother of the Deb), an epistolary novel in the form of letters from the harried said mother to her friend, describing the mishaps of launching her daughter into high society. Its epilogue was contributed by Compton Mackenzie. It was the lattermost novel that Simon alerted me to, and I thank him for the heads up. She also published (as Flavia Anderson) two volumes of non-fiction—The Ancient Secret: In Search of the Holy Grail (1953) and The Rebel Emperor (1958), about the Taiping rebellion of the mid 19th century. She was also the great-niece of Elinor Glyn, another list entrant.

Image swiped from Mark's post at Wordwoodiana

I also owe thanks, this time to Mark Valentine who blogs at Wormwoodiana, for flagging GILLIAN EDWARDS for me. Her first novel, Sun of My Life (1951), has a man researching the life of a college acquaintance, a poet whom he has saved from suicide only to have him die soon after of pneumonia. Mark reviewed it here and compared its structure to Symons’ The Quest for Corvo. She didn’t publish again until The Road to Hell (1967), in which "a well-meaning man enlists the aid of the dark powers to bring prosperity to an unsophisticated village in the Mediterranean, and, in doing so, brings the village people all the ills of civilisation.” I Am Leo (1969) is about the downfall of an arrogant prince in Renaissance Italy, and Tower of Lions (1971), also set in that locale, features Giulio d’Este, imprisoned by the Borgias for 50 years due to a youthful indiscretion, reflecting on his life and times. Accidental Visitor (1974), set in the present, deals with an author living in isolation on an island, who must share his space for a time with a suicidal, recently-widowed woman. I could find no details about her final novel, Fatal Grace (1978). She also published three volumes about word origins—Uncumber and Pantaloon: Some Words with Stories (1968), Hogmanay and Tiffany: The Names of Feasts and Fasts (1970), and Hobgoblin and Sweet Puck: Fairy Names and Natures (1974).

There could be a substantial separate list of authors with some affiliation to Bloomsbury, and ANNA D. WHYTE would be included. Apart from anything else, she was one of the young women present at Newnham College for Virginia Woolf’s famous lecture there (as well as one by E. M. Forster). But her two novels were also published by the Hogarth Press, complete with Vanessa Bell covers. Change Your Sky (1935) is set among English folk escaping a dreary March in a pension in Florence, and how the improved climate affects their sensibilities. Lights Are Bright (1936) is about the adventures (including hurricane and earthquake) befalling a heroine in pursuit of the man she loves, and the new love she finds instead. Her writing was sometimes compared to Virginia Woolf, but there are indications that her own relationship with Woolf was ambivalent and that her early admiration may have faded with time. She was born and raised in New Zealand, but her parents were Scottish and she returned to England to attend Cambridge and seems to have remained for the rest of her life. She worked for the BBC during World War II, and in later years moved to Dorset with her family and managed Thomas Hardy’s birthplace near Dorchester for the National Trust.

On the subject of literary admirations, the first mention I came across of PAULINE MARRIAN noted that she was a great admirer of Dorothy Richardson while still quite young; the two were introduced in 1920 and they continued a friendship and correspondence through their lives. Marrian went on to publish two novels of her own. Under This Tree (1934) features a heroine struggling to break free from her old-fashioned home life—a reviewer noted, “This full-length sketch of a premature frump could easily have been shallow and spiteful, especially if the author had shown any signs of pertness. Actually, it is both satirical and sympathetic. Her Janet may be an appalling bore to her friends, but she is a joy to follow." Destruction's Reach (1935) deals with a painfully shy but nonetheless passionate woman, and her struggles to triumph in a stage career. She lived for a time in Hungary, and after World War II, she worked for the British Sailor’s Society.

Perhaps arguably belonging on a French version of this list, FRANCESCA CLAREMONT had close ties to Provence and presumably lived there at some time, but she gave her birth nation as England on U.S. immigration forms and lived mostly in England as an adult. She published poetry, a volume of children’s stories, and a biography of Catherine of Aragon (1939), as well as five novels. Magical Incense (1932), set partly in Germany, is about the difficulties of the three daughters of a country parson. Lost Paradise (1933), which seems to have received particular acclaim, is about a Frenchwoman, married to an Englishman, who puts her lush recollections of her old home into letters to her cousin. Turn Again, Ladies (1934) is about an embittered woman, widowed from an unhappy marriage, who must find a way forward with her daughter and a close friend. Dead Waters (1936) is a historical adventure set in Provence in 1288, in the time of the crusades, and The Shepherd's Tune (1960) is also set in Provence just before the outbreak of World War II, about a young shepherd who seems to cause strange disruptions among the locals. Claremont was a Montessori teacher for most of her life; following her husband’s death, she moved to Los Angeles and became a director of the teacher training institute there. Despite all this detail, however, I haven’t been able to trace her maiden name.

Farcical comedy can very easily go awry if an author is not very skilled in her handling, but I confess I'm a bit intrigued by NEVE SCARBOROUGH's two humorous novels. Pantechnicon (1934) has Ruritanian elements, though its setting is London—the dethroned king of a fictional country and his daughter take to working in a very unique department store. Shy Virginity (1935) features a parson’s wife who is determined to have a singing career; “the author handles subjects which Victorians treated as 'tabu' with a good deal less than Victorian reticence." Scarborough seems to have spent a fair amount of time in Scandinavia, and published Seldom Deer, or, Wheels Across Denmark (1936). In later years, she was active in social causes, particularly on behalf of girls with disabilities, including those caused by polio. Strangely, considering her local prominence, she seems to completely disappear from public records and newspapers after 1958, and I could locate no obituary.

It's always fun when a contemporary review hands me on a silver platter the essential clue to identify an author who might otherwise have proven a challenge. So I appreciate a 1958 review which says, of CLARE SIMON, "The author who writes under this name works by day in Hatchards and writes in the evenings. She is the daughter of Michael de la Bedoyere, editor of the Catholic Herald…" This led me easily to Sybil Clare de la Bédoyère (later De Boer), whose four novels received significant acclaim when they appeared. The Passionate Shepherd (1951), begun when the author was only seventeen, is about the love of a priest for a young woman. Oh, the Family! (1956) deals with a Sussex farm family, with a father who is none too good at farming and a mother doing her best to make a home. Bats with Baby Faces (1958) finds an Austrian WWII refugee trying to adapt to life in an English convent school. And Glass Partitions (1959) is about the love troubles of a young woman journalist. I have Bats waiting to be read…

I could perhaps have saved GLADYS ST JOHN LOE for my next post on mystery writers, since her final novel, Smoking Altars (1936) concerns the travails of a man who believes he has inherited a homicidal mania, but it doesn't sound exactly like it fits my mystery category either. Loe published four other novels and a story collection. Spilled Wine (1922) is about a young woman, ashamed of her lower class origins, who becomes a wildly successful author (and lover). In Beggar's Banquet (1923), a young typist inherits a thousand pounds and heads out to explore the world. The Door of Beyond (1926) has supernatural elements, with a hero who is possessed by a spiritual twin; he finds said twin embodied in a woman, only to have her spirit taken over by his dead wife. Meanwhile, I could almost believe that Who Feeds the Tiger (1935), which “keeps us perpetually amused by the local gossip and social taboos of the quiet, imaginary cathedral town of Glenchester,” and which was published as by “Eve St John Loe,” were by another author entirely, as it sounds quite different from her other work, but Gladys' middle name was Eve and library catalogues seem clear that it’s the same author. Her story collection was Dust of the Dawn and Other Stories (1922), and she also published a one act play, Sentence of Death (1930). Her husband was one Charles Edmund St John Loe, but a lingering mystery is where the "St John" came from. It’s not on his early records, nor do his father or grandfather ever seem to have used it at all. It’s possible that the couple simply adopted it at some point for its upper crust sound?

And actually, my last author,
FRANCES LAYLAND-BARRATT, could also have appeared in my mystery writers post. But although Ann Kembal (1934), set in Manchester, was described as “a very unusual crime story of a successful murderess,” the rest seem more like melodrama, some with supernatural touches. She wrote six novels in all. I found no details about the first two, The Shadow of the Church (1886) and Doubts Are Traitors (1889), the latter subtitled "The Story of a Cornish Family," but Beatrix Cadell (1892) deals with a heroine with no formal schooling or religious background, who falls for an immoral schoolmaster. She published a story collection, The Queen and the Magicians and Other Stories (1900) and a volume of poetry (1914), but otherwise fell silent until the 1930s, when she published three novels in consecutive years, beginning with the aforementioned Ann Kembal. Lycanthia (1935) sounds quite a lot like horror, with a heroine “reared in an atmosphere of unhappiness and suspicion, and nursed by a female dedicated to the Devil … Strange happenings ensue, in which a huge wolf-like animal plays a terrible part.” Goodness. There's a copy available on Abe Books for a quite reasonable $10,000… And Joy Court (1936) plays on the old bugaboo about inherited insanity. I doubt I would have enjoyed having tea with Layland-Barratt: In 1922, she was quoted in the papers advocating strongly against allowing women into Cambridge, and indeed against higher education of women in general—“What is the good of being able to tackle Euclid if you don’t know how to cook a dinner?” Ahem.

Friday, March 15, 2024

Highlights of the 2024 update (2 of 4)

I have twelve more authors for you today, of particular interest from among the 130 new authors I recently added to my main author list (see here and my previous post here). And this is actually my favorite of the four posts I'm putting together about new authors, because these are all authors I'm genuinely interested in reading (or even have already read), and a good many are in the "cheerful romance" category that I tend to gravitate toward.

A fellow novelist
writes of Hannah
Aitken's disappearance

It's particularly fun for me, in researching a new author, to come across a reference to the fact that her mother (or daughter, or aunt, etc.) was also a novelist. That happened when I was already very intrigued by HANNAH AITKEN, the Scottish author of four novels often praised for their quiet plots and vivid characterization. In a Shaft of Sunlight (1947) is set in Edinburgh and deals with “an ordinary family linked from childhood with their unordinary friend, Victoria.” That description was enough for me to get hold of a copy, though I haven't read it yet. Whittans (1951) is a portrait of a Scots border village, while Seven, Napier Place (1952) is described as a family story set in post-war Edinburgh. Music for the Journey (1957), uniquely, is set amongst a group of travellers on holiday in Greece—“the mood of scene and place is delightfully evoked,” and that is also intriguing me (though I'm disciplining myself not to acquire multiple books by one author until I've actually read one). Aitken also edited an anthology, A Forgotten Heritage: Original Folk Tales of Lowland Scotland (1973). Tragically, Aitken disappeared during a forest walk in January 1977, and her body was only discovered six months later. That part is a downer, for sure, but in the process I found that her father was a Church of Scotland minister and her mother…

…published four novels of her own under the pseudonym JEAN OLIVER RIDDELL (real name Annie Clark Aitken, nee McArthur). Riddell's novels also feature primarily Scottish settings. There's Wind on the Heath (1924) is "a pleasing, homely story of life in a Border village,” and it so happens it was available for downloading from Stanford University's website here (haven't read it yet, of course). In Sunlight and Salt (1927), “the sincerity of high purpose is effectively contrasted with the self-deception of the unctuous poseur.” Miss Murchie's Holiday (1930) features the title character, brought up in Glasgow, falling in love with the countryside, and I am quite tempted by it as well, but resisting so far according to my aforesaid rule. And in Pyperhill (1932), “an unlikeable recluse and pseudo-scholar … appears in the district with his two very likeable daughters.” She was a teacher prior to her 1906 marriage.

Then there's MAXINE HEWSON, the description of whose four novels, combined with their irresistible dustjackets (at least the ones I've found), inspired me to get hold of the first, Keeping House for Jan (1947), focused on “London’s leading beauty expert” and the housekeeper he met in Devon. Suzannah Sings (1948) is about a young singer and the influence of a temperamental impresario. There’s No Profit In It (1951) features the triplet daughters of a philosopher, who set out to make their fortune with an array of business ventures. And A Genius at Large (1952) (oh, temptation again!) follows a film unit shooting on location in the Highlands. For an author whose books were widely reviewed, it’s surprising that I’ve not yet been able to find any clues to trace her in public records.

Thank you to Susie Watson who emailed me to suggest LADY MARY CAMERON for the list. This was the pseudonym used by Dorothy Fletcher (later Cochran) for three books. The first was a highly successful memoir, Merrily I Go to Hell (1931), about her upbringing near Oxford, her world travels, and her eventual arrival in the U.S., to which she emigrated. The book was subtitled “Reminiscences of a bishop’s daughter,” at least a slight exaggeration as her father was a vicar of long standing in Kibworth, but never, so far as I can tell, a bishop. But then, she wasn’t a “lady” either. She then published two novels, Mr. Dayton, Darling! (1933) and Duchess by Appointment (1934), which poke fun at American snobbery and notions of British aristocracy. Her use of the "Lady" prefix must have been taking advantage of those same notions… 

I came across ELIZABETH ORD WATT a while ago, and thought she'd published only two novels, but it turns out there were six in all, but the first four were simply credited to Elizabeth Watt. It also turns out that they are primarily—wait for it—cheerful romances. Blue Salon (1931), which I'm absolutely yearning for, is the tale of a young woman from a Scottish manse who heads to London to sell dogs in the titular shop. In the unfortunately-title Beyond Idolatry (1931), two bright young things set out for the glamourous Italian Riviera to be artists, falling in love, facing tragedy, and sometimes shocking the locals. Pyjamas for Drusilla (1932) features a young woman raised by aunts in Somerset, who starts a shop in Mayfair, enjoys the London nightlife too much, neglects her business, and then must outwit a crooked investor with designs on her honor. (I'm kind of salivating for that one too, I confess.) Doubting Moon (1933) is narrated by a mother who has done her best to prevent her son's happy marriage, and telling how and why she was such a "damned fool." Watt’s final two works appeared as by Elizabeth Ord Watt, though it’s unclear where the Ord actually comes from. This Is the Way We Go to School (1935), which I have on my TBR shelves, is about a woman who raises a Canadian niece—"how the upbringing of the disturbing, if charming, Marily is achieved by her aunt, and how these two react upon families of neighbouring children and grown-ups, provides refreshment not easily forgotten." And in Leave Us the Years (1939), a newspaper advice columnist, who has long advised her readers against going on cruises, tries one herself, with perhaps predictable results. One wonders if it might have been based on reality, since a review of it mentions that she “has recently left England to marry a naval chaplain stationed in Hong Kong.” Alas, I can’t locate any records for an Ord Watt at the time and there are far too many Elizabeth Watts to narrow down.

I mentioned Stanford's collection of British novels for online access above, and I also found one of BEATRICE KELSTON's novels there. She was an actress, playwright, and author of six novels—most but not all of them humorous romances. A Three-Cornered Duel (1912) is about the complications of a young man in love, by turn, with each of two twins. Seekers Every One (1913) is a “charming romance” of a girl’s search for happiness “in love, on the stage, and in various spheres of life.” In All the Joneses (1917), "Old Jones—a queer, selfish millionaire—leaves a vast fortune, and the problem to whom it falls, and the quest for the same, provides the 'motif' of a racy and thoroughly entertaining story." Bertha in the Background (1920), according to a contemporary reviewer, "shows what a first-rate inventor of farcical comedy she is,” and features a stodgy old bestselling novelist and his attempts to get his “madcap” daughter under control. (That's the one I found on the Stanford site.) Two of her works seem more serious in tone—The Blows of Circumstance (1915) is an ultimately tragic tale of a young woman determined to make her way in the theatre, and The Edge of Today (1918) is about an unhappily married woman who wants to belong to today instead of yesterday. Kelston also wrote a number of plays and several radio plays for the BBC Children’s Hour. Her plays include Indian Summer (1933), an adaptation of Vita Sackville-West’s novel All Passion Spent.

Will all the books I haven't managed to read yet, at least I have already read (and reviewed!) one of the two novels published by JANE BIRD. I enjoyed By Accident (1935), which deals with a “family of busybodies” who determine to learn the secrets of two new arrivals in their village. Her follow-up, Both Hands (1936) tells of the effects of the reappearance in a family of a long-estranged aunt, including “rich comedy and subtle sadness.” It's on my list of possibilities for our next trip to the British Library. She seems to have also edited the earlier anthology, Elizabethan Lyrics (1921).

also published two novels. Her big success (which we photographed last year at the BL, but which of course I haven't yet read) was Finished Abroad (1930), set in a Swiss finishing school for well-to-do girls. She adapted it into a play, which seems to have had a fair amount of success as well. Her second novel, Substitute (1932) is written in the form of a young man’s defense against a charge of philandering with three different women. That and another play, They Do These Things in France, seem to have been less acclaimed than her debut. She also translated a play by Jean Giono in 1935. “Jolliffe” seems to have been a traditional middle name on her father’s side. Tragically, her premature death at age 35 seems to have been by suicide.

The work of some authors seems to evolve in striking ways as they progress. EVELYN HERBERT was a Welsh journalist and author of five (I think) novels. In the 1930s, she published two rather serious novels set among Breconshire’s mining community. Anna Priestly (1932) deals with an unwed mother—"As may be expected, the woman pays, but she pays with a proud scorn and a grim reticence. … Miss Herbert has created an unforgettable character.” The White Peony (1935) examines a community of miners around Sugar Loaf in Wales, both before and after the mines were closed. World War II then intervened, but in the 1950s, she returned to fiction in a very different tone (I thought perhaps they were two different authors sharing a name, but a review made clear the author was the same). Venus Unmasked (1952), apparently published only in the U.S., focuses on three young sisters making their way in a peaceful English village. Paris Is for Lovers (1953), published first in the U.S. and then in England in 1956, is a romantic comedy “by a writer of wit, wisdom and tender witchery." And Kiss the World Goodbye (1958), published only in the U.K., is “escapism in the best and fullest sense,” the tale of an unhappy woman teacher who inherits money and heads straight for Italy. I thought it was possible that Venus might simply be the US edition of one of the others, but the plot points mentioned in reviews don’t seem to line up, so I'm saying they're five novels until corrected. Researching her is quite the challenge because of her more famous namesake, the daughter of the Earl of Carnarvon, whom (I now know) was the first modern person to enter King Tut’s tomb.

Claudia Parsons in later years

spanned 60 years with her three published works. First came Brighter Bondage (1935), which was reviewed by the Illustrated London News alongside Nancy Mitford’s Wigs on the Green (and is advertised on the back cover of Ann Stafford and Jane Oliver’s Cuckoo in June). It "follows the fortunes of a plucky young widow who kept her spirits up and her head above water after her husband's death and the loss of their comfortable income.” A few years later, Vagabondage (1941) told of her extraordinary trip by car from New York to British Columbia, and thence through Asia and the Middle East and across North Africa, on a shoestring budget and over the course of sixteen months (!!). Her 1995 memoir, Century Story, tells of the extraordinary backstory for both books, as well as the rest of her eventful life. I came across her from the Cuckoo in June advertisement, but when I went to research her, I found that Sarah Lonsdale had already devoted a chapter to her in Rebel Women Between the Wars (2020), which is now also on my TBR.

Next comes ADELAIDE HERIOT—playwright, novelist, and author of books on entertaining. Her four novels are upbeat romances—Secretary to Sir Mark (1937), about a young woman whose life changes when she becomes secretary to the owner of a luxury hotel line; That Sweet Passion (1937), about four young people—a typist, a journalist, and two advertising copywriters—and the complications they get into; Virginia Goes Home (1937), about a young English girl adapting to life in Scotland; and Beauty for Sale (1940), about a young beauty specialist whose attempts to shield a society girl from her jealous husband cause problems with her own beau. Naturally, none of them are readily available outside of national libraries. Heriot had begun her career with two guides to entertaining, Enjoyable Parties (1936) and Gay Interiors (1936), and she later published a one-act play, Who Steals My Purse, in 1951.

And last but not least for this post is ANNE PIPER, the author of nine novels which she herself described as light comedy. Early to Bed (1951) features the memorable opening line "I married most of them in the end," while Cuckoo (1952) features a heroine “whose artless gaiety wreaks havoc in men's hearts and homes." The “plump but attractive” heroine of Love on the Make (1953) goes through a string of jobs trying to make her way, including working for a Ruritanian princess in the Balkans. Green for Love (1954) is about the wife of successful barrister, who hatches a plot to maintain his affections. The Hot Year (1955) has a retrospective World War II setting, with "a wistfully romantic St. John's Wood puritan” ending up in wartime Delhi and Rangoon after her marriage. In Spinsters Under the Skin (1957), the wedding of a dean’s daughter is disrupted by the arrival of her more attractive and assertive sister. Sweet and Plenty (1959, published in the US as Marry at Leisure) is a comedy about a young woman and her brood of illegitimate children—it was made into a film, A Nice Girl Like Me, in 1969. Yes, Giorgio (1961), about a Welsh heroine "on a wild American spree with an Italian professor,” was also filmed in 1982 with Luciano Pavarotti; a 2013 large print edition was drably retitled Welsh Rose and Her Latin Lover. Finally, The Post Graduate (1979) was Piper’s response to The Graduate; one review was titled "Mrs Robinson Comes Out Fighting." Piper was reportedly "struck by how unfair the young man [the author of the novel version] was on middle-aged women," so told a tale of "a housewife who finds new confidence through a liaison with a young French student." A 1970 article notes that she was married to David Piper, director of the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge, and that she started writing because she was working as a hospital librarian and couldn’t meet her patients’ demands for light comedy. I haven't sampled her work yet, but I have a couple on my library request list—several seem to be possible (if not easy) to find.

And that's quite enough to be getting on with for now. In my next post, I have 13 more authors who are intriguing in one way or another, and in the fourth of these update posts, I'll share 14 authors from the last update who will also be added to my Mystery List when I finally get round to revising it—some very interesting finds there too, if I do say so myself!

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