Saturday, June 01, 2013

Cornwall's Ida Pollock has penned 123 books and has just celebrated her 105th birthday

Ida Pollock
As a council member of the Society of Women Writers and Journalists (and their archivist), I'm in touch with hundreds of writers around the world.  Sometimes I hear them use the excuse of 'age', which they say stops their inspiration.  This morning, I heard a BBC Radio 4 clip about Ida Pollock, one of our oldest living writers of romantic fiction.  She has two new novels coming onto the booklists soon. Ida from Cornwall, has written 123 books, many of them for Mills & Boon and turned 105 in April this year. 

The Romantic Novelists' Association recently awarded its oldest member the title of honorary vice-president. Mrs Pollock said modern romantic novels were "quite different today, I don't suppose I'd recognise them."

The RNA announced recently that  Mrs Pollock's agent was hoping the two titles would be published "in the not too distant future".  The author was born in 1908 and began writing short stories after inheriting a love of reading from her mother. She told BBC Radio Cornwall: "When I was 15 my mother provided me with reading material and I got to love the books. Then I thought I'd write myself and she bought me a typewriter and I began writing novels. Writing was the thing I loved, long before I had any romance. It was an instinctive part of life."

Cover of novel The cover of Ida's 1968 novel the Bay of Moonlight

Her first novel "Coloured Palanquins and Coloured Lanterns", set in China, was published in the mid 1930s under the name Joan Allen. She said she could still remember the first line of the novel: "The towers of Ravenshawk soared up towards the sky..."But Mrs Pollock said her family were not supportive of her chosen career.

"I don't think they understood me at all, why should I be thinking about things like that when I could be leading an ordinary life?" she said.

Mrs Pollock went on to write 123 novels under 11 different names, including Anita Charles, Averil Ives and Marguerite Bell. A prolific author, at one time publishing 40 books in just five years, she said publishers were keen for her novels to have plots involving "a rather hard-up young woman and a rich overlord." Of her work for Mills and Boon she said: "I was their main writer, I wrote for them for years." Mrs Pollock was one of the founding members of the Romantic Novelists' Association in 1960.

Annie Ashurst, the current chairman, said: "A writing career is a career for life, as Ida has proved. "She has lived for her writing and we are all very proud of her and are very much looking forward to reading the next two [novels]."

Mrs Pollock said she had not had much time for reading in recent years but she still loved writing. "It has been my obsession," she added.

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