Enid Bagnold (October 27, 1889 – March 31, 1981) was a British novelist and playwright. Though now best known for National Velvet, she wrote about a variety of subjects in a number of genres. The daughter of an army officer, Bagnold was born in Rochester, England, and spent her early years in Jamaica, after which she was educated in England and France.
During World War I, she was a member of the British Women’s Services, and her early books, A Diary Without Dates (1917) and The Happy Foreigner (1920) detail her wartime experiences. In 1920 she married Sir Roderick Jones, at which point she became Lady Jones.
Bagnold’s overall oeuvre is no longer widely read, but her best-known work remains the novel National Velvet. It’s the story of an ambitious 14-year-old girl who rides her horse, Velvet, to win Britain’s Grand National steeplechase. The book was turned into a film starring the young Elizabeth Tailor in 1944. Another of Bagnold’s most successful works, was The Chalk Garden (1955), which became a film starring Debora Kerr and Hayley Mills in 1964. Her last play, Gravity, starred Katherine Hepburn.
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No one was sure what to make of Bagnold during her time. Virginia Woolf called her “a scalawag who married a very rich man.” Though Woolf’s legacy now far outshines Bagnold’s, at the time, she was a bit afraid of her, as well as somewhat contemptuous.
With her prickly personality, her colleagues in the arts called her a “demon lady” and “a monster.” Even her children and grandchildren were often puzzled by or frightened of her. Bagnold’s contemporaries couldn’t quite decide if she was old-fashioned or on the cutting edge.
Bagnold died at Rottingdean, England, at the age of 92.
More about Enid Bagnold on this site
- National Velvet
- A Diary Without Dates
- The Happy Foreigner
- The Chalk Garden
- The Loved and Envied
- The Squire
Biographies and autobiographies about Enid Bagnold
- Enid Bagnold on Wikipedia
- Read A Diary Without Dates by Enid Bagnold
- National Velvet on Wikipedia
- Reader discussions of Enid Bagnold books on Goodreads
Read and Listen
Articles, News, Etc.
- The Fascinating First Lady of a Gilded Dynasty
- The Grande Dame Who Rocked the Cradle
- Margaret Drabble on Playwright Enid Bagnold
- Enid Bagnold: At Odds with the World
Films based on Bagnold’s works
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