|PAMELA FRANKAU: 1908 - 1969|
All through the 1950s, my parents and I would make regularly visits to Lincoln Library and would each bring back a pile of books. I rarely looked at my Dad's weekly collection unless they had pictures of steam-trains (a love of which I inherited from him.) But my mum's pile was different. I used to see many authors that are rarely seen today even in second-hand book-shops. Jean Plaidy gave me a basic grounding in English history - far more compelling that Miss Fauld's tedious lessons. It was her books (the eye-opening revelation that history is more about people than facts) that slowly made me turn to writing historical fiction.
When it came to women's fiction - excellent and not trashy women's fiction, I might add - I discovered Pamela Frankau. I read as many as my mother and I could lay our hands on until there were no more. I later collected quite a few second-hand copies in the days before on-line book-selling became commonplace. I am surprised to see that she is not even popular enough nowadays for someone to reproduce them in digital downloadable form.
I now plan to re-read my Pamela Frankau collection of books. Among the novels there's this volume - Pen to Paper (A Novelist's Notebook) published in 1961 when I was only ten years old. Of course, I was too young at the time to read it. Now I write, I am glad I rediscovered it. (Don't you find that forgotten books reappear in your life just when you are ready to read them - or is it only me?) When I turned to the first page the other day, I knew I was about to meet a 'kindred spirit' as Anne Shirley would say.
"It comes without warning. I have been watching for it, searching back among old files in my memory: the only files I keep. Here are to be found I have wanted to write and have not yet written. I say "to be found". Not always; not all them them. The files are haphazardly maintained. It is only when the rhythmic creative restlessness comes back that I turn them over to see what I've got there. My thriller with the pretty title. The novel that runs through one day only...The light comedy about The Wonderful Old Lady who was really a stinker...? "
I love this. Her style is so simple; not tricksy or clever-clever but it speaks true to my way of thinking. I particularly like the fact that she keeps everything in her head (like me) and doesn't keep banging on about keeping a notebook handy. (The only one I kept before it disappeared and then reappeared five years later when I flicked through it and found it stuffed full of unreadable, incoherent unusable rubbish and I couldn't see why I'd wasted my time. Yet this is so often mentioned in writing-guides.
Pamela Frankau may well appear on this blog again in the future as I reread her books. So does anyone else remember her novels that were so popular in the fifties and sixties?