Margery Allingham was born in London in 1904. Her first novel was published when she was seventeen. In 1929 she published The Crime at Black Dudley and introduced the character who was to become the hallmark of her writing - Albert Campion. Margery Allingham died in 1966.
Nina Bawden (1925-2012) was one of Britain's best-loved writers for both adults and children. Several of her children's books - Carrie's War, a Phoenix Award winner;The Peppermint Pig, which won the Guardian Fiction Award; and Keeping Henry - have become contemporary classics. She wrote over forty novels, slightly more than half of which are for adults, and she was shortlisted for the 1987 Man Booker Prize for Circles of Deceit. She received the prestigious S T Dupont Golden Pen Award for a lifetime's contribution to literature in 2004, and in 2010 The Birds on the Trees was shortlisted for the Lost Booker of 1970.
One of Britain's most original writers, Angela Carter was highly lauded for her novels, short stories and journalism. She died in February 1992.
Willa Cather (1873-1947) was born in Virginia where for generations her ancestors farmed land. She became a teacher and journalist and is one of the greatest American writers of the twentieth century.
Amanda Craig is a well-known journalist and broadcaster. She is the author of A VICIOUS CIRCLE and IN A DARK WOOD. You can visit her website a www.amandacraig.com
Daphne Du Maurier
Daphne du Maurier (1907-89) was born in London, the daughter of the famous actor-manager Sir Gerald du Maurier and granddaughter of George du Maurier, the author and artist. In 1931 her first novel, The Loving Spirit, was published. A biography of her father and three other novels followed, but it was the novel Rebecca that launched her into the literary stratosphere and made her one of the most popular authors of her day. In 1932, du Maurier married Major Frederick Browning, with whom she had three children.Many of du Maurier's bestselling novels and short stories were adapted into award-winning films, including Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds and Nicolas Roeg's Don't Look Now. In 1969 du Maurier was awarded a DBE. She lived most of her life in Cornwall, the setting for many of her books.
Hans Fallada was one of the best-known German writers of the twentieth century. Born in 1893 in Greifswald, north-east Germany, as Rudolph Wilhelm Adolf Ditzen, he took his pen-name from a Brothers Grimm fairytale. His most famous works include the novels, Little Man, What Now? and The Drinker. Fallada died in 1947 in Berlin.
Miles Franklin (1879-1954) was born into a pioneering family settled in New South Wales, Australia. She wrote My Brilliant Career when she was only sixteen. Publication in 1901 brought instant fame and a notoriety that was so unwelcome that she forbade its republication until ten years after her death. Miles Franklin then went to America, where she worked for the Women's Trade Union League, and later to London and Salonika, where she did war work and was political secretary for the National Housing Council. In 1933 she returned to Australia, where she spent the rest of her life. My Career Goes Bung, the sequel to My Brilliant Career, was published in 1946, and her autobiography, Childhood at Brindabella, posthumously in 1963.
Marilyn French (1929 - 2009) was regarded as one of the greatest living feminist writers. Her controversial and provocative first novel THE WOMEN'S ROOM, published in 1977, sold 20 million copies worldwide and quickly became a classic of the women's movement. Marilyn French was also a literary critic. She died in May 2009.
Stella Dorothea Gibbons was born in London in 1902. She studied journalism at University College, London, and worked for ten years on various papers, including the Evening Standard. Her first novel Cold Comfort Farm (1932) was (and is) hugely successful. She married the actor and singer Allan Webb, who died in 1959. They had one daughter. Stella Gibbons died in 1989.
Elinor Glyn (1864-1943), who liked to 'sin on a tiger skin', was as romantically exotic as the heroines of her novels.
Patrick Hamilton was one of the most gifted and admired writers of his generation. His plays include Rope (1929), on which the Hitchcock thriller was based, and Gas Light (1939). Among his novels are The Midnight Bell, The Siege of Pleasure, The Plains of Cement, Twenty-thousand Streets Under the Sky, Hangover Square, The Slaves of Solitude and The West Pier. He died in 1962.The Sunday Telegraph said: 'His finest work can easily stand comparison with the best of this more celebrated contempories George Orwell and Graham Greene.'
Joseph Heller was born in 1923 in Brooklyn, New York. He served as a bombardier in the Second World War and then attended New York University and Columbia University and then Oxford, the last on a Fullbright scholarship. Joseph Heller is an honorary fellow of St. Catherine's College, Oxford, which he visits periodically to meet students who are writing fiction. He lives in East Hampton, New York
Patricia Highsmith (1921-1995) was born in Fort Worth, Texas, and moved to New York when she was six, where she attended the Julia Richman High School and Barnard College. In her senior year she edited the college magazine, having decided at the age of sixteen to become a writer. Her first novel, Strangers on a Train, was made into a classic film by Alfred Hitchcock in 1951. The Talented Mr Ripley, published in 1955, introduced the fascinating anti-hero Tom Ripley, and was made into an Oscar-winning film in 1999 by Anthony Minghella. Graham Greene called Patricia Highsmith 'the poet of apprehension', saying that she 'created a world of her own - a world claustrophobic and irrational which we enter each time with a sense of personal danger' and The Times named her no.1 in their list of the greatest ever crime writers. Patricia Highsmith died in Locarno, Switzerland, in February 1995. Her last novel, Small g: A Summer Idyll, was published posthumously, the same year.
Zora Neale Hurston
In the Harlem Renaissance of the 1930s, Zora Neale Hurston was the preeminent black woman writer in the United States. She died in 1960 in a Welfare home, was buried in an unmarked grave, and quickly faded from literary consciousness until 1975 when Alice Walker almost single-handedly revived interest in her work. Nearly every black woman writer of significance - including Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison and Alice Walker - acknowledges Zora Neale Hurston as their literary foremother.
Elizabeth Jenkins (1905-2010) was a distinguished biographer (of Jane Austen, Lady Caroline Lamb and Elizabeth I), historian and novelist. She was awarded the OBE in 1981. THE TORTOISE AND THE HARE, her sixth novel, was first published in 1953, and is generally considered her greatest work of fiction.
Molly Keane was born in Co. Kildare, Ireland, in 1904 into a 'rather serious Hunting and Fishing Church-going family' who gave her little education at the hands of governesses. Molly Keane's interests when young were 'hunting and horses and having a good time'; she began writing only to supplement her dress allowance. She died in 1996.
Shena Mackay was born in Edinburgh in 1944. Her writing career began when she won a prize for a poem written when she was fourteen. Two novellas, Dust Falls on Eugene Schlumberger and Toddler on the Run were published before she was twenty. Redhill Rococo won the 1987 Fawcett Prize, Dunedin won a 1994 Scottish Arts Council Book Award, The Orchard on Fire was shortlisted for the 1996 Booker Prize and, in 2003, Heligoland was shortlisted for both the Orange Prize and Whitbread Novel Award. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and lives in Southampton.
Erich Maria Remarque
Erich Maria Remarque was born in Osnabruck in 1899. Exiled from Nazi Germany, and deprived of his citizenship, he lived in America and Switzerland. The author of a dozen novels, Remarque died in 1970.
Mary McCarthy (1912-1989) was a well-known novelist, critic, journalist and memoirist. Her most famous novel is THE GROUP.