Rumer Godden (December 10, 1907 – November 8, 1998) was novelist and memoirist born in Eastbourne, Sussex (England) and raised mainly in India at the height of colonial rule. She and her three sisters spent an idyllic childhood in the Bengal region, now actually part of Bangladesh. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be a writer. She was sent to be educated in Britain, as was the custom at the time, and traveled back and forth from England to Britain frequently.
After being trained to be a dance teacher in Eastbourne, Rumer returned to India in 1925 and, at age 18, started a dance school in Calcutta. The school allowed both English and Indian children to attend together, something that was scandalous for its time and place. Despite this impediment to success, she and her sister Nancy kept the school running for some twenty years. Read More→
Anita Loos (April 26, 1889 – August 18, 1981) was an American author, playwright, and screenwriter, best known for Gentleman Prefer Blondes. She was born Corinne Anita Loos in what is today Mount Shasta, California.
The story of her actual childhood seemed like a scenario fit for screen treatment. A curious girl, she tagged along with her father, a dissolute alcoholic, whose company included others of his proclivity, prostitutes, and others who resided in San Francisco’s underbelly. Anita performed on stage from an early age in her father’s stock theatre company, on occasion becoming the sole support of the family. She disliked the work, however, knowing that what she really wanted was to be a writer. Read More→
Margery Sharp (January 25, 1905 – March 25, 1991), born Clara Margery Melita Sharp in Salisbury, England, was a prolific British author. Though she wrote numerous books (many in the comic novel genre), her most enduring works are The Rescuers series for children, two of which were adapted into animated Disney films.
After completing a varied education in arts and languages, Margery started her career by getting her stories published in Punch magazine, at age 21. She continued to write for this and other major magazines in Britain and the U.S. By the time she was 30, she had published her first novel, Rhododendron Pie (1930) which took her just a month to write. By the end of the 30s, she had married Major Geoffrey Castle, an aeronautical engineer. Read More→
Baroness Orczy (September 23, 1865 – November 12, 1947) was born Emma (or “Emmuska”) Magdolna Rozália Mária Jozefa Borbála Orczy de Orci in Tarnaörs, Heves County, Hungary. Both her parents had aristocratic ancestry. Her father Felix was a Baron and a composer and her mother, also named Emma, was a Countess and daughter of a member of the Hungarian parliament.
When revolution threatened Hungary in 1868, her parents were forced to flee their homeland and lived at various times in Budapest, Paris, and Brussels until 1880 when the family settled in London. There, Emma studied both art and music. Some of her art works were exhibited at the Royal Academy. Read More→
Françoise Sagan (June 21, 1935 – September 24, 2004) born Françoise Quarez in Cajac, France was a French novelist, playwright, and screenwriter. Her nom de plume was inspired by the Princesse de Sagan, Marcel Proust’s favorite author. She and her siblings were raised in an upper-middle class family in France.
Bonjour Tristesse and the start of a prolific career
After graduating from Paris schools, in 1952 she began her university study at the Sorbonne. Within a year, she began writing Bonjour Tristesse. It was published in 1954, the author only 18 years old. The book was an instant phenomenon, selling hundreds of thousands of copies in a short time. Soon, it was translated into more than a dozen languages. With this distraction, Sagan lost interest in her studies and dropped out.
The success of her first novel was followed closely with Un Certain Sourire (A Certain Smile) in 1956 and Dans un Mois, Dans un An (Those Without Shadows) in 1957. Her works presented romantic storylines with touches of existentialism, and were populated with rich, often dissolute characters. They went on to sell millions of copies worldwide. Read More→