georgette heyer biography by jennifer kloester

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Georgette Heyer’s first novel, The Black Moth, was written when she was just nineteen in order to amuse her convalescent brother. It was published in 1921 to instant success, and in the ninety years since then her work has been read and beloved by millions of readers and extolled by today’s bestselling authors from writers of contemporary classics through to romantic comedies.In Georgette Heyer, Biography of a Bestseller, Jennifer Kloester has written a meticulously researched, engaging and comprehensive portrait of The Queen of Regency Romance that will appeal to Georgette Heyer’s many fans and curious new readers alike.

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Also by Jennifer Kloester Georgette Heyers Regency World

Copyright JENNIFER KLOESTER 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

WILLIAM HEINEMANN: LONDON

Copyright JENNIFER KLOESTER 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Published by William Heinemann 2011 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 Copyright Jennifer Kloester 2011 Jennifer Kloester has asserted her right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988, to be identified as the author of this work This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

This book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, resold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publishers prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition, including this condition, being imposed on the subsequent purchaser. First published in Great Britain in 2011 by William Heinemann Random House, 20 Vauxhall Bridge Road, London sw1v 2sa www.randomhouse.co.uk Addresses for companies within The Random House Group Limited can be found at: www. randomhouse.co.uk/offices.htm The Random House Group Limited Reg. No. 954009 A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 9780434020713 The Random House Group Limited supports The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the leading international forest certification organisation. All our titles that are printed on Greenpeace approved FSC certified paper carry the FSC logo. Our paper procurement policy can be found at www.randomhouse.co.uk/environment

Typeset by Palimpsest Book Production Limited, Falkirk, Stirlingshire Printed in the UK by CPI Mackays, Chatham, me5 8td

Copyright JENNIFER KLOESTER 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

For Richard George Rougier (19322007) friend, raconteur and gentleman and for Jane Aiken Hodge (19172009) who led the way

Copyright JENNIFER KLOESTER 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Copyright JENNIFER KLOESTER 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

CONTENTS

Illustrations Authors Note Part Part Part Part Part 1 2 3 4 5 The Young Edwardian 19021919 First Crack Out of the Bag 19201930 A New Life: The Sussex Years 19301942 Albany: The Golden Years 19421966 Lady of Quality 19661974

ix xiii 1 43 107 245 357 391 395 401 405 409 411 413 415 421

Afterword References to Published Sources Georgette Heyers Novels (UK First Edition) Georgette Heyers Novels (USA First Edition) Georgette Heyers Known Short Stories Heyer-related Archives Permissions Acknowledgements Index

Copyright JENNIFER KLOESTER 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Copyright JENNIFER KLOESTER 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

ILLUSTRATIONS1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. Front Cover Georgette, circa 1924, photographer unknown; Back Cover Albany Sylvia and Georgette, circa 1903 Georgette aged 18 months, circa 1904 Georgette and Boris circa 1910 Georgette with Boris and Frank circa 1914 Sylvia Watkins and George Heyer, circa 1900 George Heyer, circa 1893 Sylvia Watkins on her wedding day, 1901 Captain George Heyer, circa 1915 Georgettes grandfather George Heyer, n.d. Georgettes grandmother Alice Heyer ne Waters, n.d. Georgettes grandfather William Watkins, n.d. Georgettes grandmother Annette Watkins ne Roome, n.d. Cecily Watkins, Annette Watkins, Josephine Watkins, circa 1914 Fairfield, the Watkins family home, n.d. Georgette and her grandmother, Annette Watkins, circa 1913 Georgette aged about 17, Boris and Frank, circa 1919 Georgette Heyer circa 1920. Possibly the photo which appeared in a medallion on the back cover of the first edition of The Black Moth (cover not seen) Georgettes first novel The Black Moth 1921 The Great Roxhythe 1922 the first Hutchinson edition Georgette aged 21 by E.O. Hopp, 1923 The Transformation of Philip Jettan 1923 Georgettes only pseudonymous novel

20. 21. 22. 23.

ixCopyright JENNIFER KLOESTER 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

J e n n ifer Kloes t e r

24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54. 55. 56.

Instead of the Thorn 1924 the first contemporary novel Ronalds father Charles Joseph Rougier, n.d. Ronalds mother Jane (Jean) Henderson Gray Crookston, n.d. Ronald Rougier, Royal Naval College cadet, circa 1913 Ronald Rougier aged 22, 1922 Carola and Dulce Oman, 1914 Joanna Cannan, circa 1914 Georgette Heyer, circa 1922 Georgette and Ronalds wedding, 1925 George Heyer a few hours before his death, 1925 Georgette in Tanganyika at the end of a seven mile walk, 1927 Georgette outside the Manor House, Kyerwa, Tanganyika, 1927 Georgette and Ronald in Kyerwa, circa 1927 Helen 1928 Georgettes most autobiographical novel The Masqueraders 1928 Georgette and Ronald in Paris, circa 1930 Blackthorns, Toat Hill near Horsham, circa 1974 Georgette and Misty Dawn, circa 1939 Georgette and Richard at Church Cove, the Lizard, Cornwall, 1937 Richard and Jonathan Velhurst Viking aka Johnny, circa 1940 Pastel 1929 dedicated to her mother Barren Corn 1930 Georgettes last contemporary novel Lieutenant-Colonel Charles Leslie Rougier, circa 1935 Sylvia Heyer, n.d. Jean Rougier, n.d. Pater Charles Joseph Rougier, n.d. Georgette by Howard Coster, 1939 Dmitri and Dorothy Tornows wedding September 1944 Ronald, Georgette, Boris and Richard dressed for a wedding, circa 1949 Richard, the gillie and Georgette in Scotland, circa 1952 A.S. Frere, 1953 Patricia Wallace, circa 1938 C.S. Evans, n.d.

xCopyright JENNIFER KLOESTER 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Il lu strati on s

57. 58. 59. 60. 61. 62. 63. 64. 65. 66. 67. 68. 69. 70. 71. 72. 73. 74.

Percy Hodder-Williams, n.d. Georgettes favourite photo of herself, circa 1940 Boris Heyer, n.d. Frank Heyer, n.d. Aunt Ciss and Aunt Jo (Watkins), n.d. Richard at Cambridge, circa 1954 Susie and Dominic, her eldest son, circa 1961 George Ronald Rougier QC, circa 1959 Richard George Rougier QC, circa 1972 Georgette and Ronald, circa 1959 Georgette, oil painting by Anna Murphy circa 1959 Max Reinhardt and A.S. Frere, circa 1971 Georgette at Greywalls, circa 1955 Ronald Rougier, circa 1970 Georgettes remaining notebooks A page from Georgettes Regency notebooks A page from Georgettes Regency notebooks A page from Georgettes Regency notebooks

xiCopyright JENNIFER KLOESTER 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

Copyright JENNIFER KLOESTER 2011. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

AUTHORS NOTE

I first read Georgette Heyers novels while living in the jungle in Papua New Guinea and re-read them while living in the desert in Bahrain. A fascination with her historical fiction led me on a tenyear research journey which culminated in this biography. Much of this story of Georgette Heyers life and writing is drawn from new and untapped archives of her letters. In recent years my discovery of over a thousand pages of her personal writing, dating from when Georgette was eighteen, has made a new biography possible. Access to these letters, so generously given by their owners, has made it a reality. Georgette Heyers son, Sir Richard Rougier, gave me the necessary copyright permission to quote from his mothers private and public writing. He also gave me unfettered