Picture of Joyce at 75Picture of Joyce as a Young Actress at 35                             My own illustrated Wikipedia

Born Manchester 27 December 1929. Professional actress 1949-1966. Occasional Press Officer.  Professional writer 1964 onwards.
 Founder member Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society and Copyright Licensing Agency. Lay member Industrial (now Employment) Tribunal panel 1977 –1990 London and Manchester. 1955 married actor Patrick Connor (1926-2008). 
Two sons, Nicholas born 1961, Julian 1966.

Suffragettes Cover

Virago have reissued my anthology Votes for Women,  with a smart new cover, under the title Suffragettes,  to coincide with the release of the film of that name starring Meryl Streep as Mrs Pankhurst.  I rarely re-read my books but decided to have a go with Suffragettes.  I’m  delighted to say  I was impressed by the amount and breadth of my research!  If you’re at all interested in the subject, Suffragettes is available as a paperback or can be downloaded as an e-book on Amazon . It’s worth a punt. 

Kessie Book Cover Image

My suffragette novel Kessie which won a Best Historical novel award is obviously  a different kettle ofish . When I last re-read it, I was surprised  by its sweep and how well I  wove the factually accurate background into the turbulent love story of feisty suffragette Kessie and charismatic Labour MP Tom. It’s available as an e-book on Amazon and other sources. 

Ellie Warburton Cover

My own favourite novel, The Memoirs of Ellie Warburton, is basically another love story featuring  upper-class Ellie and born-in-a-workhouse Luke, but this time the background is the First World War. Having edited the Women and the Great War for Virago,  as with Kessie I’ve woven the factually accurate accounts of what Ellie and other women did into that horrific conflict into the wider story.  Available in paperback and as an e-book.  

It Doesn't Always Rain in Manchester Cover

It  Doesn’t always Rain in Manchester,  my take on  growing up in suburban Manchester in the 1930s and during the Second World War,  can also be downloaded, from Amazon cheaply!

That's enough in the the self-publicity stakes.  On now with the original text.   

1.0  Childhood
2.0  Acting career
      2.1  Repertory theatre
             2.1.1 Chorlton and Harry H. Corbett
             2.1.2 Phillip Barrett and West Hartlepool
             2.1.3 Dan Mulville: my first lover
             2.1.4 Other reps
       2.2  Touring Days - Belfast & Father McPhillips
       2.3  West End - Connie and Warren Mitchell
       2.4  Television
       2.5  Films
       2.6  The End of My Acting Life
3.0  Press office - Savoy Hotel London
4.0  Writing Career
       4.1  Books Published
       4.2  Literary Agents & Publishers
       4.3  A Suicidal Year
       4.4  Carol Smith & “creepy-weepys”
       4.5  Public Lending Right (PLR) Brigid Brophy & Maureen Duffy, Elizabeth Jane Howard & Kingsley Amis
       4.6  Author’s Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS)
       4.7  Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA)
       4.8  The Writers’ Guild

5.0  Lay Member of Industrial Tribunals
6.0  The Gordon Williams/Terry Venables Saga
       6.1 The Losey/Williams Partnership  “Kessie”  & a new agent
       6.2  Kessie contract,  Enter Terry Venables,  Kessie  savaged

       6.3  Legal advice Dog's Dinner contract
       6.4  Kessie accepted  Return of Terry Venables 
       6.5  Contract still a dog's dinner
       6.6  Enter Michael Rubenstein   Escrow problems. Agent fired
       6.7  Things look up  Hodder & Stoughton  on my side
       6.8  Legal Impasse.  Writers' Guild
       6.9  Enter Robert Leeson Contract revised
       6.10  A vicious phone call. Yet another agent.  Despair
       6.11  Legal fees & other contretemps
       6.12  Two decisions
       6.13  Agreement legally signed
       6.14  The end of the saga
       6.15  Goodbye Writers’ Guild, Robert Leeson & Gordon Williams
7.0  What Happened Next - Books and Tribunals
8.0  Family Matters
9.0  Joyce at 85

1.0  Childhood 

My father William Lees was a first class decorator but lousy business man.  My mother née Mary Thorpe Smethurst always had some scheme on the go but none of them made much, if any, money. 

They were married in February 1929.  In the December I was born.  When asked if she’d chosen a name for her bonny baby girl my mother replied, Yes, ‘Hazel’.   Whereupon the family doctor exclaimed, ‘You can’t call her that, it was our old cow’s name!’  

So Joyce I became.

Decades later my mother confided she hadn’t wanted a baby straight away but my father told her he knew what to do.  Obviously he didn’t, so she took matters into her own hands.  The Unitarian minister’s wife fitted her with a Dutch cap in front of the kitchen fire. Unitarians were ever a quirky lot.

Picture of Joyce and her sister Janet at Fort Sumpter 2010
According to plan Anne was born in 1934, Janet in 1936.

Six months after Janet’s birth, Anne died of enteritis.  I did not attend the funeral but my devastated mother asked if I wanted to say goodbye.  Curtains were then drawn as a mark of respect for the dead.  Ours were threadbare and the August sun was shining on Anne’s face.

Anne's death had two notable effects on six year old me.  Its swiftness - in the afternoon we played in the garden, in the morning she was dead – showed how unpredictable and capricious life could be, while the angelic serenity of her face made me personally unafraid of death.

In October 1940 a bomb hit our house but landed in the back garden.  My mother, sister, cat and myself emerged unscathed from the cellar.  In 1942, a severe attack of mumps, left me with virtually no hearing in my right ear and later I had other health problemPicture of Joyce as a young girl in Pariss.  Apart from those traumas, my childhood was unfashionably happy.

I was state educated at Whalley Range Preparatory and High Schools in south Manchester.  Early in 1947, impulsively, I left WRHS early.  Probably not a wise action, as I was a clever girl being coached for Oxford but who knows?  Instead I went on an exchange to Paris.

In autumn
1947 I enrolled at the Bradford Civic Theatre School.  As neither my mother nor I liked Joyce Lees – Joy Sleaze? – before I left Bradford we selected Marlow as my surname.  I’ve used it ever since, professionally and personally.

2.0  Acting Career

2.1  Repertory Theatre

In the decade after the Second World War, major UK cities and many towns had a repertory company, with summer seasons in coastal resorts. Actors were contracted for specified periods with others brought in for “special weeks”, and we all had boxes full of make-up sticks, notably “5” and “9”.  Companies such as Birmingham, Stratford-on-Avon, the Bristol and London Old Vics were at the top of the heap.  Twice-nightly reps, mostly based in the northern industrial towns, were at the bottom.

2.1.1  Chorlton & Harry H. Corbett

My first job in spring 1949 was at Chorlton Rep in south Manchester. Among the company was a lad named Harry Corbett. When I checked his website I was surprised to discover his father had been an army officer and it was after his mother’s tragic death that, aged 3, he was sent to live with an aunt in Manchester. True the aunt lived in Wythenshawe which was a 1930’s council estate, albeit then a model one, but Harry harped on about his impoverished working class background so much that my mother insisted on feeding him. I’m not sure how much he enjoyed her tea parties. There was already the puppeteer of “Sooty” fame named Harry Corbett so our Harry later added a middle “H.” to his name.

Our last encounter was at the Television Centre when Harry H. Corbett was at the height of his fame in the BBC series “Steptoe & Son”.  He had by then become rather grand – he’d been dubbed “the British Marlon Brando” and fancied himself as an auto-didact intellectual – but he chatted graciously to his ex-colleague.

2.1.2  Phillip Barrett & West Hartlepool

In 1950 I did a twice-nightly season with the Phillip Barrett Company in West Hartlepool.  It was bloody hard work – twelve shows a week, rehearsing next week’s offering during the day – but I enjoyed it.

was an interesting but deeply flawed character.  He hailed from a poor family in a Yorkshire mill town –Picture of Joyce With Phillip Barrett Halifax? Huddersfield? – and once told me that as a teenager he spent hours on the moors, reciting Shakespeare to the sheep. He’d worked for some of the best actor-managers of his day, Johnston Forbes-Robertson, Sir Frank Benson, and could still be very good but all too often some devil made him ham and adlib outrageously.

Once bi-sexual –
Eileen Herlie had been his leading lady and wife and he was very proud when she had a great, in my opinion unwarranted, success in a play called The Eagle Has Two Headsand went on to play Gertrude in Laurence Olivier’s film of “Hamlet” before disappearing.  By the time I knew Phillip he was 100% “queer”, the term by which gays were known. We gathered he liked rough trade, as he once came back from a Sunday in Newcastle-on-Tyne with a bruised face that needed thick applications of “5” and “9” to disguise.

His post-war seasons were highly successful but in 1955 ITV arrived, to sound the death-knell of the old-style weekly reps (and music halls).  Who wanted to turn out on a filthy cold wet night when they could stay at home to watch exciting American series and top-of-the bill acts from the London Palladium?        
Philip struggled on with increasingly tatty tours, until he was declared bankrupt. My mother saw him as an extra in a BBC/TV show, which greatly upset her. The next thing I heard, he’d committed suicide. For several years he brought touches of theatrical magic into thousands of drab lives. Saluti

As a teenager I’d become aware of the gulf between Manchester’s inner city streets and leafy Whalley Range and had been a devotee of George Orwell’s weekly column in the Manchester Evening News, but it was my West Hartlepool landlady Mrs Trotter who made me a life-long, if at times infuriated, Labour supporter, by informing me that her house, 43 Tower Street, was among the 70% back-to-back properties in the town that had one cold tap in the scullery and an often shared bog in the back yard.

Mrs Trotter enlightened me about other aspects of early 1950s British society.  One set of comments went something like this: “The police may be your friends, pet, but they aren’t ours.  You see, pet, if you’re an ambitious bobby you need to make arrests.  Who would you choose?  Me and Alan (her son) or you and your lovely Mum? She’d go straight to a good lawyer, wouldn’t she?  They wouldn’t dare plant evidence on her, would they?”

2.1.3  Dan Mulville my first lover

During a season at the Leicester Opera House,  Dan Mulville turned up as the scenic artist, something he’d never before undertaken but he made a good job of it.  I was 21, he 35.  He courted me gracefully, assiduously, and I could not have lost my virginity to a better tutor, for Dan believed love-making to be an art that far too few human beings bothered to learn. Picture of Dan Mulville looking pensive and sexy

My curiosity soon discovered he came from an Ulster Protestant family, had been educated at an English public school (can’t recall which) and his passion was sailing. Just before the Second World War started he joined the Palestine Police Force, an odd choice for such an iconoclast, but perhaps no more curious than George Orwell’s stint in the colonial Burma police.

Dan returned to wartime England to enlist in the Royal Air Force, another peculiar choice for a passionate sailor.  He served in Bomber Command, as a navigator I think, but refused to participate in “Bomber” Harris’s blasting of German cities. Court-martialled, his plea of conscientious objection accepted, he was banished to a glasshouse in the Shetlands.

After a few weeks there, having devoured all available books, bored stiff, he somehow made his way to the mainland, on to Edinburgh and down to London where he worked as a taxi driver until the end of the war when there was, I think, an amnesty for conscientious objectors.  Dan knew the site of every ladies lavatory in central London, as apparently women were in the habit of jumping into his taxi and saying “Take me to the nearest public convenience!”.                                                                                   

He’d been twice married, once to Rex Harrison’s sister, and twice divorced.  Part of the problem was his sterility, the result of beingPicture of Joyce on the boat kicked in the balls whilst playing rugby at his public school.  But he was a born wanderer, with no base, possessions, or permanent job.  As Dan himself said, he was not husband material. A pity, as he was the most interesting man in my life.  After a couple of years, that included weekends on the yacht he was looking after on the Hamble River, we drifted apart.

In 1960 I read good reviews of a book entitled “Trade Winds and Turtles”, author Dan Mulville. As expected from my intelligent, literate ex-lover it was a well written, enjoyable account of a voyage that started in the Canary Islands where Dan acquired “an old French fishing boat, 40 feet long, rigged as a gaff cutter.” Having taken out the engine, with only essential equipment and no radio, he and a young Swede set sail for the West Indies which, as the trade winds had shifted since their 19th century mapping, they reached after near death experiences.  The “Turtles” of the title referred to adventures once in the West Indies. I considered re-contacting Dan via the publisher, I occasionally regret that I didn’t, and have no idea what became of him.

2.1.4  Other Reps

In the 1950s and early 1960s Bristol Rapier Players, Wolverhampton, Eastbourne, Oldham, Windsor, Watford and Richmond were among the reps graced with my presence for longer or shorter periods.  The two I particularly remember are:

Boston (Lincs) One matinee we performed While Parents Sleep to an all-male audience from the local prison. Apart from containing the second act curtain line ”Well, it’s better than a slap in the belly with a wet fish”, it has a juvenile lead, in this instance me, who prances around in scanty cami-knickers.  There was nearly a riot when I came on stage in mine.

The Leas Pavilion, Folkestone Tea matinees there entailed performing while old ladies balanced trays, clattered cups, nibbled biscuits and called for more sugar and/or milk. Much cherished by the theatre’s lessee, Arthur Brough who had a twilight success in the BBC/TV sitcom Are You being Served, if not by his actors.

2.2  Touring Days - Belfast and Father McPhillips

I did several tours, the most interesting of which was Agatha Christie’s The Hollow because it took us to Belfast.  I’m short-sighted and on the first night I glimpsed what looked like a large black bat up in the flies.  In the interval I asked a stagehand what it was and he introduced me to Father McPhillips who’d come down from his perch to have a cup of tea. The year was 1954 but priests were still forbidden to attend theatres.  The Protestant stagehands took pity on the poor benighted Catholic and on opening nights hid him in the flies

We were only in Belfast for the week but Father Mac and I established an immediate rapport. In his Morris Minor he drove me to Newcastle  where the Mountains of Mourne sweep down to the sea, and a couple of nights collected me for supper at his rectory. We talked and talked, theatre, books, and Irish history about which he said I was the first English person he’d met who had any, never mind a pretty extensive knowledge.  For several years he sent parcels of books and when in London took me to the theatre - in the very best seats.

2.3  The West End - Connie and Warren Mitchell

In 1954 it was The Pet Shop written by Warren Chetham Strode who’d had a success with “The Guinea Pig”; in 1962 Brush With a Body.   Both plays went into the St Martin’s Theatre, both were failures, the latter one best forgotten.

Constance Wake who played the juvenile lead in “The Pet Shop was being groomed for stardom but it was her husband Warren Mitchell who became famous, as Alf Garnett in the BBC/TV sitcom Till Death Us Do Part.  Warren acquired a reputation for being “difficult” but he was always fine with me.

The last time I saw him was in Leeds in the early 1990s when he was playing “Lear”.  Espying me In the post-show crush he shouted something along the lines of:: “It’s Joyce Marlow as ever was. What do you want to drink?.”   Which caused glances of who-the-hell-is-she variety.  It’s nice to record that Warren and Connie’s marriage has lasted 50+ years.

2.4  Television

There is a list of my television work on the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) web site but some of it is not correct.  I do not have all the names and dates, but I produce my own best recollections here.  In the 1950s and 60s the majority of producers and directors were men but several of the plays I was in were directed by women; Caryl Doncaster, Naomi Capon (twice), Barbara Burnham (twice) and Tania Lieven. Another admired female director with whom I did not work was Joan Kemp-Welsh.

1952……Factory Girl (BBC)

1953……Chorus Girl (BBC)

Both were early examples of the “drama documentary”. In “Chorus Girl” I had to tap-dance which was not my forte - I’d studied ballet. Shouted at by the ultra camp choreographer Freddie Carpenter, for hours I practised my solo routine with top hat and cane.  After transmission, live of course, Freddy said my triumphant expression as I caught the cane and lifted my top hat made his night.

. ……..…The Coiners (BBC) children’s play about 18th century counterfeiters.

1954……Bless This House (BBC).

One of the first plays to be tele-recorded, it earned me some publicity. Guess what? - Joyce Marlow was actually appearing on stage as the play was being transmitted!

1956…….The Jimmy Wheeler Show He was a well-known, not very pleasant variety artist.

…………..The Golden Entry An interesting play by J.B. Priestley which alas was only transmitted on ATV’s Midlands network as I had a good part.

1957……One of Us (ITV)

I had a good part in this too, alongside two actors who went on to Hollywood stardom:-

Janet Munro became a Disney favourite but after her contract ended, so unfortunately did her career. Her rumbustious marriage to and divorce from actor Ian Hendry didn’t help matters and she hit the bottle.  In 1972 she died suddenly, aged only thirty-eight. My memories of Janet are of a highly professional – she’d grown up in the business, her father, Alex Munro being a Scottish comedian - self-contained lass who had the ability to catnap at will.

Robert Shaw I was never close to Bob but one evening at a party he suddenly told me about the alcoholism/manic depression that led his doctor father to commit suicide, and the effect on his twelve year old son. Despite his success as actor and writer, neither Bob’s own alcoholism, nor his messy private life and dropping down dead aged fifty-one, surprised mPicture of Joyce in The Red Rosee.

1958…… Red Rose for Ransom (BBC).

A good play about the Lancashire mill workers’ support for the North during the American Civil War.  It was among the last plays to be recorded in the grotty, since demolished, Dickinson Road Studios in Manchester

...............Black Arrow (BBC) (three episodes) “Goody Hatch” in this adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson novel.

…………. What’s In Store…(ITV) Advertising Magazine (2 episodes)
Picture of Joyce in Champion Road
…………..Champion Road (BBC) A play by James Lansdale Hodson

...............Emergency Ward 10 (ITV) (2 episodes) Long running soap

...............Private Investigator (BBC) My good French came in handy                                                
.......Dixon of Dock Green (BBC) (1 episode)
Picture of Joyce as a Lancashire housewife
..............“Omo” detergent advert.  I did several adverts but I mention this because the revelation that I was
an   actress, not an actual Lancashire housewife, caused a minor hoo-ha with articles about duping of the public! 

1960 .......The Small House at Allington (BBC) (1 episode) Adaptation of the Trollope novel.

..............Somerset Maugham series (ITV) (1 episode)

1961…….Magnolia Street (BBC) (three episodes) Adaptation of Louis Golding’s best selling novel.

The Jewish lass and Gentile lad were played by Susan Marriott and Edward Woodward.   One day I was having lunch with Sue Marriott and another cast member Patricia Haines, when Pat told us about having to take her bloody ex-husband to court to extract maintenance for herself and young daughter.   “I didn’t realise they’d actually arrest him and lock him up for the night,.” she said. “Still it served him right.”  The bloody ex-husband was Michael Caine who ruefully related the episode in his autobiography What’s it all About?

In her mid-forties Pat Haines alas died of cancer and Sue Marriott’s fate was just as sad.   A lovely, bubbly girl, she was the sister of film director John Schlesinger, and her subsequent suicide distressed me.Picture of Joyce in Z Cars

1962 ……Z Cars (BBC) Recently my son Nick acquired a dvd of black-and-white episodes of this ground-breaking series – bootleg I suspect - as his actor father Patrick Connor was in one of them. To general astonishment Nick’s mother had a part in another episode.  It’s the only recording of myself thus far traced. I was pleased with my performance.

 1962........ Z Cars Another episode

1963 …....Hancock (ITV)

Although I had a decent part, this was one of the more depressing experiences of my theatrical life.  Following his enormous success with “Hancock’s Half Hour” on the BBC, the ITV series was a disaster.  In the mornings Tony Hancock never spoke a word to his fellow actors and his lines were scattered around the sets on “idiot boards”.   After lunch he was mostly too drunk to work and we were sent home.

1963-1965....A Little Big Business  (Granada) sitcom, two series, six episodes each.Picture of Joyce as Miss Stevens in Little Big Business

This IMDb link is a load of misinformation.  My name was not spelled Marlowe with the final “e”; the series’ writer was Jack Pulman; the characters played by David Kossoff, Francis Matthews, Martin Miller and myself were in all the episodes.   Constance Wake reappeared in my life to play Francis Matthews’ wife in the first series, to be replaced in the second by ex-crooner Diana Coupland who went on to be Sid James’s wife in the popular ITV series Bless This House.  Diana and I had a neutral relationship, neither liking nor disliking each other.

The producer of A Little Big Business was Peter Eton who had master-minded The Goons on radio.   He continued to receive frantic phone calls from Spike Milligan, either to babble in the middle of the night or to be rescued from police stations after another manic depressive outbreak.   Peter Eton liked me but I had to have an interview with director Cliff Morgan.

On a fine summer’s day in 1963 I reported to Granada’s head office in Golden Square, London.   Cliff, an ebullient Welshman, had given instructions that he was not to be interrupted.   When the telephone rang for the second time, he wrenched the machine from its socket and threw it out of the open window.   I looked out and said, “You’re OK. It hasn’t hit anybody.”   Which made Cliff laugh and maybe clinched the part of secretary Miss Stevens.

David Kossoff was a big name on film, television and radio.  His acting persona was the charming, talented Jew but it was Martin Miller, a refugee from Hitler’s Europe and one of the nicest men I’ve met, who fitted that role.   David was certainly talented but he had a sharper personality and acquired a prickly reputation.   We hit it off, perhaps because he decided I had Jewish blood.   When Warren Mitchell turned up in an episode of the second series I was glad his wife Connie was no longer with us, as he and Kossoff did not hit it off!

When I knew him, David’s pride and joy was his son Paul who was studying classical guitar. For whatever reasons Paul switched to rock and in 1976 died from a drugs overdose.  His shattered father set up the Paul Kossoff Foundation and devoted the rest of his long life – he died in 2005 - to campaigning against drugs.

1959...Ulysses in Night Town Picture of Patrick looking rugged in the 1950's

It was my husband Patrick Connor, not I, who appeared in this adaptation of James Joyce’s book, directed by Burgess Meredith at the Arts Theatre, London in 1959.  Through Patrick’s involvement I got to know two of the American actors in the cast.

Carroll O’Connor - When Patrick told me Carroll knew nobody in London, I invited him and his wife for dinner .at our basement flat in Earls Court. Carroll did the talking – his wife was a very quiet woman.- and when Ireland came into the conversation he launched into a vitriolic anti-English diatribe.   Afterwards he seemed utterly unaware that he might have caused offence.   Carroll later had a huge hit playing Archie Bunker in All in the Family, the American version of Till Death Us Do Part.   Like David Kossoff’s, his (adopted) son became a drug addict.   When he too committed suicide, Carroll followed in David’s footsteps by campaigning against drugs.

Zero Mostel known as Zee.   At the party we gave for the “Ulysses” cast he insisted on helping with the washing-up in our primitive kitchen.   We had a fascinating conversation and I regret not having had more with him, particularly about the McCarthy era when Zee was black-listed.   On his return to America, to my delight his fortunes revived.   He had Broadway successes in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum and Fiddler on the Roof and was gloriously funny in Mel Brooks’s film The Producer.

2.5  Films

Merton Park Studios produced television series and B pictures.  Their casting director Ronnie Curtis had a wall-eye so you were never sure whether he was talking to you or somebody else.  Ronnie’s office was in central London and if you called in and he liked you, you’d get the odd day or two at Merton Park.  The occasion I remember is a film starring Kay Kendall who married Rex Harrison and died far too young.  Harrison had an appalling reputation but she was a delightful young woman .

I can’t remember the title of a film in which I played a French girl – French approved by the director’s wife - but I know it starred the Swedish actress Mai Zetterling who spoke French as fluently as English and couldn’t have been nicer.

The same could not be said of Laurence Harvey or Peter Lorre.   The film was Innocents in Paris and I had a very short scene as a hotel maid which involved the two men.   Harvey was doing a season at Stratford-on-Avon which meant a limousine collected him at lunchtime and I got three days on the film.   During this time neither actor addressed a single word to me.   Apart from his drug induced stupor, Lorre had spittoons around the set into which he regularly spat great globules of phlegm.   His sad condition made his lack of civility understandable.  For Harvey, I suppose I simply didn’t exist.  The crew took me under their wing and I had an enjoyable three days.

Other bits and pieces in my undistinguished film career aren’t worth mentioning.

2.6  The End of my Acting Life

For family reasons this happened in 1966 after a disastrous production of Chekov’s “The Seagull” at the Palace Theatre, Watford. Jimmy Perry was its lessee and years later we re-met at a Writers’ Guild do.  I reminded him of a backstage conversation, during which he’d talked about his wartime days in the Home Guard and wondered if there was any mileage in a television play about them. I’d thought it sounded an excellent idea. The rest, as they say, is British television history with Dad’s Army, as written by Jimmy Perry and David Croft, one of the BBC’s most enduring comedy series.Picture of Glenda jackson

Glenda Jackson was another actress who like me did “special weeks” at Watford. Glenda also acquired a reputation for being “difficult” but we always got on well, perhaps partly because we were both Labour supporters. A few years later when she was recording Elizabeth R, my husband bumped into her. The upshot was an invitation to lunch at the Television Centre. My sister Janet’s comment was “Why should Glenda Jackson want to have lunch with you?” To which the answer is “Why shouldn’t she?”.   We stayed friends and after Glenda became a Labour MP she re-appeared in my writing life.

During my seventeen years as a professional actress, various directors and theatrical agents said I had talent and they’d boost my career. None of them did but maybe if I’d stayed the course I’d have found a niche, becoming one of those faces you recognise but can’t put a name to.

3.0  Press office - Savoy Hotel London

The Savoy Hotel: Room 205 which is where the Press Office was situated in the 1950s.

Few actors manage without taking other jobs.  Having learned to copy-type I did my share of office “temping” and from the mid-to-late-1950s, via a friend,I worked intermittently in Room 205.

Jeanne Gilbert first name pronounced “Jeany” was the actual Press Officer.  How she held on to the job intrigued me, seeing she drifted in and out of the office, leaving her staff of three (plus me) to get on with things.  Maybe the perky hats helped, but I think Jeany survived because she was a young, pretty American from one of the southern states whom it was difficult to dislike.  Occasionally she came up with a bright idea.

David Merrick was the legendary Broadway producer renowned for his publicity stunts and his talent for making enemies. The latter would have been astonished to see him sitting in .the Press Office, patiently waiting for Jeanne Gilbert to turn up.  He was besotted with her and I suspect she enjoyed keeping him dangling.  Eventually they married but there was no happy ending.  After the divorce from Merrick, she and their daughter returned to London, before Jeanne went home to die of cancer.  Aged eighty-eight, stroke-ridden but apparently as obstreperous as ever, Merrick died in a London “Rest Home”.   How come I don’t know.

John Ford, the veteran director was in London to make a film with John Wayne.  One afternoon, I was alone in the office when in he walked.  My role as part-time press officer made my being an actress difficult - I used my married name - but John Ford and I had such an enjoyable conversation I felt impelled to dash off a note in my best handwriting and deliver it to his suite.  An hour or so later the phone rang.  John Ford for me.  He said my note had tickled him pink and he’d make sure I had an interview for the film.  Which he did.  The top casting director, Robert Lennard, was intrigued to know how I’d met Mr Ford but the part, I gathered, would be mine.  When nothing happened, par for the acting course, I accepted another job and yes, Bob Lennard eventually phoned with an offer I had to turn down.  I doubt playing a small part in one of John Ford’s less successful films would have affected my career but it would have been nice to have had the opportunity.

I never met John Wayne, but I have a vivid memory of him striding across the Savoy’s foyer – he was a genuinely huge man – espying Margot Fonteyn who looked like a tiny porcelain doll, lifting her up and whirling her around.

Among film buffs Roberto Rossellini was renowned for gritty, realistic films such as “Open City” but to the general public he was the man who’d had a scandalous affair with Hollywood goddess Ingrid Bergman and fathered her child before they married.

At night, unless there was something special going on in the Savoy there was just one press officer on duty. That evening it happened to be me. Rossellini stayed the best part of an hour.  Feeling lonely, I presumed, I can’t recall what we talked about but the short, tubby, balding Italian oozed charm and I saw why Ingrid Bergman had fallen for him.

Roy Castle has become the icon of the anti-smoking lobby, the lovely man who never touched a cigarette but died from lung cancer induced by passive smoking. In those days the Savoy had a classy cabaret which on this occasion included the up-and-coming Roy Castle.

Somebody from the press officer always went along to see if there was anything the artiste needed or we could do to help.  When I trotted up and said my piece, Roy Castle snarled and more or less told me to 'f'-off'.  Maybe he was feeling nervous, or maybe he just didn’t like me, but I saw no reason for his being quite so rude.  I still don’t.

Incidentally, the first time I heard the now common f-word used in public, was in Room 205, the speaker, a high-powered Hollywood press agent.  Having torn us off several strips about something we’d failed to do to his satisfaction, he turned towards me and snapped, “If you stopped 'f'-ing' apologising like all you 'f'-ing' Limeys, you could be a good 'f'-ing' press officer.”

Bill Haley and the Comets were the breakthrough rock-and-roll band, mobbed by hysterically screaming teenagers. One day Haley’s manager came into the office. to ask if we could find him somebody who knew the British ropes.  Answer yes, me! I swiftly saw why he needed help, as their American publicist was hopeless.  For the duration of the Comets’ stay in London I was assigned to them.

From his website I’ve learned that Bill Haley was yet another alcoholic but I saw no signs of his addiction.  He was always polite and once played the piano in his suite for me, classical music, very well. My favourite memory is of his responding to a late morning knock on the door, wearing a silk dressing gown – very Noel Coward – with a hairnet keeping his famous kiss curl in place.

His manager’s name escapes me but he just loved my accent and begged me to be the Comets’ press officer on their forthcoming tour of Hawaii and Australia, all expenses paid, plus a good salary.  My husband said the decision was mine. In the end I turned the offer down and sometimes wonder whether I made a big mistake.  I suppose I didn’t want to be an 'effing' press officer.

In 1950 Gloria Swanson had one of the all time great comebacks in Sunset Boulevard but by the mid ‘50s interest had waned. Frankly she had no need of a full-time assistant and I had to work hard to get any interviews.  Sharing Ken Livingstone’s abhorrence of London’s pigeons, she screamed at them through the tightly shut windows.

She travelled with hand-made luggage filled with pots of lotions each carefully annotated, and packets of macrobiotic food ditto, the latter would now endear her to the healthy eating lobby.  Miss Swanson also had a companion, an upper class, slightly seedy Englishman who had a single room several doors from her suite.

One day she instructed me to phone and tell him to bring the jewels. He always answered promptly so I assume he sat waiting to be called.  On arrival he unlocked a large jewel box.  Miss Swanson gloated over its contents with the avariciousness of Volpone.  Quite a few of the glittering pieces were, I gathered, presents from another charmer, her long-time lover Joseph P Kennedy.   After a week I’d had enough of Miss Swanson and we parted company.

The press office phoned to ask if I could work for Mrs Burl Ives who needed a personal assistant while her husband filmed Our Man in Havana.   For several weeks I drove from our Earls Court flat to the apartment the Ives had rented in Mayfair.  Helen and I got on famously and unlike Gloria Swanson she needed assistance.  Their teenage son had to be packed off to a summer school in Switzerland, the phone was always ringing with Americans passing through London, there were letters to write, Burl’s schedules to check, interviews and invitations to accept or reject, dinner parties to organise Helen invited me to a couple, which was nice.

Like Zee Mostel, Burl had been blacklisted in the dreadful McCarthy era but unlike Zee he had testified which allowed him to continue working (and earn the opprobrium of non-testifiers).   This was not a subject mentioned the day I had lunch with Burl while Helen was out shopping.   He talked about his days on the road during the 1930s Depression when he learned the folk songs that made him famous and about playing Big Daddy in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on Broadway.   I had my own personal performance of several scenes!

When the Ives were next in London, Helen phoned to ask if I would work for her again.   This time I had to say sorry I was doing a telly. Later I heard they’d divorced and Burl had remarried which saddened me, as his and Helen’s had seemed a good marriage.

Of the countless others encountered in the Savoy days I remember Jack Lemmon who, unlike Roy Castle, couldn’t have been more charming when offered press office assistance, and Barbara Taylor who had always done her homework before an interview which was by no means true of all journalists.   Soon afterwards she went to America, added her husband’s name to her own and as Barbara Taylor Bradford became a best selling novelist.

I can’t recall why we had contact with (Sir) James Goldsmith because he didn’t stay at the Savoy.  The young Goldsmith had hit the headlines by eloping with the daughter of a Bolivian magnate, Isabel Patino who subsequently died in childbirth. I do recall that he was already known as “Goldenballs”.

Henrietta Tiarks is now the redoubtable Dowager Duchess of Bedford.  In the mid 1950s we were still in the debutante era and had to deal with their balls (which we all loathed).  One afternoon Mrs Tiarks came into the press office.   The good looks that made her daughter the “Deb of the Year” came from her but the Dowager Duchess’s personality must have been from Daddy because I’ve seldom met a more mouse-like woman than Mrs Tiarks.   Her effusive thanks for my being so nice and helpful have stuck in my mind.

Marabel Hadfield  is not a famous name but one I must include.   Junior press officer Marabel hailed from an affluent upper middle-class family but like her mother refused to sit on her bottom doing nothing, and felt it her duty to help others in difficult situations. The others were to include me.

An inveterate traveller Marabel had the insouciance of her Victorian predecessors.  Having had her passport stolen in Brunei she persuaded the Sultan’s aide-de-camp – always go to the top! – to issue a document that got her into the next port of call in Australia. When working in Tehran just before the Shah was deposed, conscious that she might never have another opportunity she took the bus to Persepolis.   She admitted it was a “hairy” journey, with gun-toting men all over the place, but she achieved her objective and managed to catch the last BOAC flight out of Tehran.   Another “hairy” episode was flying over the Andes in a single-seater plane that “looked as if it were held together by elastic bands”.

4.0 My Writing Career

4.1 Books Published

1964 - The Man with the Glove
1966 - A Time to Die
1967 - Billy Goes to War 
1966 - The House on the Cliffs
1969 - The Peterloo Massacre
1971 - The Tolpuddle Martyrs
1972 - Kings and Queens of Britain ( UK) Famous Kings and Queens of Britain and Scotland (USA)
1973 - Captain Boycott and the Irish
1973 - The Life and Times of George 1
1975 - The Uncrowned Queen of Ireland: The Life of “Kitty” O’Shea
1977 - Mr and Mrs Gladstone (UK)
1977 - The Oak and The Ivy (USA)

1982 - Flashback as “Julia Greene“
1985 - Kessie
1987 - Sarah
1989 - Anne
1991 - Industrial Tribunals and Appeals
1997 - The ALCS Story
1998 - Women and the Great War
2000 - Votes for Women
2009 - It Doesn't Always Rain in Manchester.  Privately printed for friends and relations. No also a Kindle ebook.

4.2  Literary Agents and Publishers

On my return from Paris in 1947, in longhand, I wrote a novel for older children about the theft of my favourite Titian painting “The Man With the Glove” from the Louvre. Picture of the dust jacket for The man with the Glove
By the early 1960s I had acquired a literary agent, courtesy of David Walton who’d been Phillip Barrett’s stage manager and boy friend in West Hartlepool.   Despite his being “um” - my concerned mother once said, “You do know he’s…um…don’t you?” - I admit to fancying David who once said “If I ever marry anybody, it’ll be you” which didn’t thrill me.    We settled for being mates.
David introduced me to Ursula Winant, a stately, middle-aged woman of impeccable Anglo-American stock – John G. Winant, Roosevelt’s WW2 special envoy, was her cousin.   She sold the re-edited, neatly typed, The Man with the Glove to Dennis Dobson.
The excitement of meeting my publisher was tempered by having to circumnavigate a huge pram and mounds of children’s toys in the Dobsons’ Kensington house-cum-office.  Somehow the chaotic husband-and wife-team managed to publish some good books, at least until their creditors caught up with them and they fled to a ruined castle in Scotland.

Having had enough of working for the Dobsons, editor Ronald Whiting started his own company Whiting and Wheaton.
Picture of the Dust Jacket for Billy Goes to War  He published my adult novel A Time to Die which was set before and during the First World War.  Ron also commissioned my next book Billy Goes to War which had its genesis in an article in “TV Times” about me as Miss Stevens in “A Little Big Business.”   The information that I was also an author with a particular interest in WW1 prompted George Martin to write to me.  George had kept a diary and taken photographs on his Box Brownie camera whilst serving in the most peculiar of Great War units, Commander Locker Lampson’s Armoured Car Section of the Royal Naval Air Service, which travelled thousands of miles across revolutionary Russia and over the Caucasian mountains into what was then Persia.   I wrote it as a teenage novel but now wish I’d done it for adults because it is an extraordinary story.

Four years after writing the sequel to “The Man with the Glove “,
The House on the Cliffs, Dennis Dobson finally got round to publishing it.

Picture of the Dust Jacket for The Peterloo Massacre Insomuch as I had a breakthrough book,
The Peterloo Massacre was it.  I’m not going into details but I wrote it during a period that led to my taking an overdose and having my stomach pumped out.   Ron Whiting who’d had his own problems, stood by me.   His problems included Whiting and Wheaton being swallowed up by the monstrous Robert Maxwell.

Ron then formed Rapp and Whiting backed by the rich maverick Georg Rapp.   To meet the August deadline of the 150th anniversary of the 1819 “massacre” on St Peter’s Fields in Manchester, Ron and I did the copy editing of “Peterloo” over the telephone with a half-hour break for lunch!   The book was widely and well reviewed and went into book club and paperback editions.  To my everlasting regret my mother died before publication but my father was duly proud.

I can't now recall how it came about, but Granada tv did a programme about "Peterloo", produced by Brian Trueman, directed by Barry Clayton who'd studied at the prestigious Polish film school.   A group of actors, plus me,  filmed on the moors outside Manchester, they in costume enacting various scenes, me as commentator.   The film was shot in colour.   Unfortunately Granada and the unions were having a stand-off about rates for colour so it wasn't  broadcast for months, then at some unearthly hour like midnight.   I wonder if there's a copy somewhere in the archvies?   It would be interesting to see after all these years.

I also  appeared on the BBC's "Late Night Review".   I had to write my own script about "Peterloo" which was nerve-racking, before being interviewed by Joan Bakewell which was fun.

Picture of the Dsut Jacket for The Tolpuddle MartyrsThe Tolpuddle Martyrs was published not by Rapp and Whiting but by Andre Deutsch, Ron’s luck having again run out when Georg Rapp suffered a heart attack and had to retire.   Andre cherry-picked people from Rapp and Whiting, including me and Carole Buick (who went on to marry high-ranking civil servant Richard Fries, later the Charity Commissioner).   Carole had edited “Peterloo” and did the same sympathetic, meticulous job on “Tolpuddle”.   We’ve remained friends ever since.

Andre's publicity woman was Carmen Calill who founded Virago Press and became a contentious MD of Chatto & Windus.  The radio and televion coverage she got for "Tolpuddle" was great.

Perhaps because I was fond of Ursula Winant, when she took me to lunch with Andre Deutsch I was loath to believe she was dead drunk.  I can’t remember who confirmed her alcoholism and suggested I see a young man who’d just joined the Anthony Sheil Agency and was in the process of assembling his own stable.
Picture of Giles Gordon

I’ve always been attracted to extravert, larger-than-life characters and halfway through the meeting at the Anthony Sheil offices (then in Covent Garden) I had a new agent,
Giles Gordon.   Giles kept a beady eye on who was doing what to whom and why in the literary world, and had a puckish enjoyment of mischief-making.   But he cared passionately about his authors and was later accused of setting the benchmark for the megabuck advances that distorted the market.

For several years Giles was my literary sheet-anchor.  It was he who told me Ursula Winant twice went into a clinic to dry out and after her second relapse committed suicide which was ever so sad as she’d been a very good agent and a really nice person.

At the end of 1970s Giles took off for a year’s sabbatical in India. On his return he and Anthony Sheil fell out, Giles’s marriage had broken up and after his first wife’s death he remarried, returned to his native Edinburgh and set up a Scottish office of the literary agency Curtis & Brown.   Giles’s comparatively early death in 2003 was the result of a bizarre accident.   Emerging from his house, he bent down to tie a shoe-lace, slipped on the icy steps, hit his head and never recovered consciousness.   We hadn’t had contact in several years but I mourned his passing.

Before the publication of Captain Boycott and the Irish which through Giles Gordon had a US edition, he moved me from Andre Deutsch to Weidenfeld & Nicolson.   His explanation was Andre’s notorious parsimony but I suspect it was also because Weidenfelds were the publisher of the day and Giles liked being in the swim.

Weidenfelds did a deal with Marks & Spencer to produce well written, lavishly illustrated coffee table books.   Mine,
Kings & Queens of Britain, sold thousands of copies but did not make my fortune as the authors were paid a flat fee, no royalties.

The Kings & Queens series edited by Weidenfeld’s favourite author, Antonia Fraser, was another flat fee, no royalties deal, but the series was so popular its authors were invited to a party to meet readers who’d won a competition.   Each author was handed an envelope containing a cheque, a nice surprise but it prompted the cynical to conclude Weidenfelds must have made a fortune from the series.
Picture of the Dust Jacket for the Queen Of Ireland

There followed The Uncrowned Queen of Ireland: A Life of “Katie” O’Shea.   Giles again got a US edition.   Dismay about its not going into UK paperback was more than offset by Stella Richman’s taking an option to produce a tv series about the love affair between Katharine O’Shea and Charles Stewart Parnell that wrecked any hope of a settlement of “the Irish Question”.   Stella Richman was then the queen of tv drama but despite her initial enthusiasm – she treated me to a slap-up lunch - the option lapsed, as most of ‘em do.

The Oak & the Ivy
was the American title of a dual biography of William Ewart Gladstone and his wife Catherine.   My American publishers did an excellent job, clear text, attractive jacket; Weidenfelds did not. Their title was Mr and Mrs Gladstone, they printed (badly) from the American edition and the pink jacket was truly awful.

I retain one happy memory of my least successful book.   I’d been granted access to Queen Victoria’s papers at Windsor Castle and on arrival in my Triumph Herald my credentials were closely scrutinised.   Thereafter the guard saluted and waved me to my parking space.  No ardent monarchist, I admit to enjoying that! .

4.3 1977 A Suicidal Year

Taking an overdose in 1969 was “a cry for help”,  in 1977 it was not.   I don’t think the catalyst was Weidenfelds making it only too clear  post “Mr & Mrs Gladstone” that they had no further interest in me.   It was more my depressive temperament, plus researching and writing nine books in ten years, being deeply involved with writers’ rights for the last four, and coping with family problems.

Whatever, I came to the conclusion I had nothing left to give anybody.  On a  May morning I cleared the breakfast things, sent younger son Julian to football practice, told my husband  I had a headache, went upstairs, jammed a chair against the bedroom door and started to swallow my cache of pills.   For some reason Julian turned back.   When he couldn’t get into the bedroom, he alerted his father who forced the door open.

On recovering consciousness in hospital I wasn’t in the least pleased to be alive.   A young doctor said my life was eminently worth saving and begged me never to make another suicide attempt.   I said I’d do my best. 

N.B Unless stoned out of their minds, nobody accidentally commits suicide by the pill method.   After about twelve, the throat constricts and swallowing  becomes increasingly painful.    Would-be suicides do not necessarily leave notes.   I didn’t.

4.4 Carol Smith & “creepy-weepys”

After Giles Gordon had taken off for his year in India the Anthony Sheil agency was always nice but did nothing to follow through with ideas for another book.   I then met Carol Smith, at the time herself a literary agent, subsequently a successful novelist.
Carol was another flamboyant character who’d had an idea for a series of “creepy-weepys” i.e romances with a supernatural twist. She’d sold the idea to Fontana paperback and aimed to sell the television rights.   Having agreed to write Flashback under the pseudonym “Julia Greene”, I left Anthony Sheil to join her stable.   The series actually entitled “Nightshades” didn’t catch on, nothing came of the tv series, Carol wasn’t the most reliable of people and we parted company.   Which left me without an agent.

4.5 Public Lending Right (PLR)

In 1973 Giles Gordon said I must join the Writers’ Action Group (WAG) which was fighting for PLR i.e. some payment to authors for the millions of books freely borrowed from our public libraries.   WAG was brilliantly led, on a shoestring, by two remarkable women, Brigid Brophy and Maureen Duffy who then had a close personal and working relationship.
Picture of Joyce with Brigid Brophy and John Goldsmith
Brigid was formidably intelligent, high principled, innately shy, ever courteous.   At meetings she sat like a Buddha but when she intervened it was with rapier-like precision.   Maureen had a tougher personality and a more practical mind - it was she who grasped the potential of the nascent computer industry to collect data from the libraries.   Maureen concentrated her energies on the matter and people in hand, and had no qualms about moving on.

I was soon involved in WAG fund-raising, lobbying and demonstrations.   It was at a demo on St. George’s Day in London in 1975 that I met Elizabeth Jane Howard, known as Jane, and her husband Kingsley Amis.   A tall, striking looking woman, with a mass of tawny gold hair, Jane was politically right-wing but a firm believer that the labourer is worthy of his/her hire.                              

As Victorians collected butterflies, Jane collected people.   For several years I was happy to be among her specimens.   My rapport with Kingsley who according to his wife didn’t like her friends, perhaps stemmed from a mutual interest in the popular second rank novelists of our youth such as Rafael Sabitini and Rider Haggard.

In 1979 a PLR Bill was the last Act of the Labour Government to receive the royal assent before Margaret Thatcher swept to power. The likelihood of the Iron Lady introducing such a Bill was not high and all writers who have benefited from PLR payments owe an enormous debt, not only to Brigid and Maureen but to Ted Willis in the House of Lords and bibliophile Michael Foot as the leader of the Commons.

The celebration of the first PLR payments in 1984 proved to be Brigid’s last public appearance, the multiple sclerosis that devastated her last years having already taken hold.   We kept in touch until her death in 1996.                                                                                                            
4.6  Authors’ Licensing & Collecting Society (ALCS)

European writers didn’t have literary agents, they had collecting societies.   The German society VG WORT already held money for British writers that could only be paid to another such organisation.   In 1977, five of us, headed by Brigid and Maureen, met at
Picture of Janet - Joyce's sisterJane Howard’s Hampstead house to form the ALCS which now collects and distributes millions of pounds to thousands of authors.

From 1983-1996 my sister Janet Hurrell was the ALCS’s highly successful secretary general.   Her appointment was nepotism to the extent that I proposed her, but studiously avoided the selection process.

4.7  The Copyright Licensing Agency (CLA)

I was one of the authors who helped found the CLA to exercise some control over the free photocopying of in-copyright books. The negotiations with publishers, many of whom thought authors should confine themselves to writing and leave business matters to them were, to put it mildly, difficult.   At times we despaired that the CLA would ever get off the ground but in 1983 it finally did.

4.8  The Writers Guild

In 1974 a group of WAG/PLR authors split from the Society of Authors, then a very genteel, not to say moribund organisation, to join the more militant television and film writers’ Guild.   For better - and worse as it turned out - I was among them.

I enjoyed being taken to lunch by the then president Carl Foreman to celebrate book authors entry into the Guild (his daughter Amanda Foreman is the best-selling historian).   Carl, another refugee from McCarthy’s black-list, was involved in the most ludicrous incident of that shameful era.   He and Michael Wilson actually wrote the screenplay for the hugely successful The Bridge on the River Kwai” but as both had refused to testify they were persona non grata in the USA.   Credit was given to the author of the novel on which the film was based, Pierre Boulle.   McCarthy’s acolytes were probably unaware that Boulle wrote in French and didn’t speak a word of English, but everybody in the business knew.   Neither Carl nor Michael Wilson was given due credit until after their deaths.
In my early years with the Guild I was a busy bee, sitting on the Books and Executive committees, representing it at a Women’s TUC Conference – yeah, they had them in those days – and on other occasions.

5.0 Lay Member of Industrial Tribunals

In 1978 it was decided the Industrial (now Employment) Tribunals needed more women on their panels of lawyer, employer and trade union nominees.   The Guild was asked to submit the names of its female executives and mine was chosen, perhaps because of my attendance at the Women’s TUC Conference or somebody connected me with that milestone in trades union history “The Tolpuddle Martyrs”.   I have reason to be grateful for my selection

6.0 - The Gordon Williams/Terry Venables Saga

This concerned my novel “Kessie”, dragged on for eight long years and produced hundreds of letters.   Having read them through for the first time in ages, I’m astonished that suicidal me survived, but somehow I did.   Compressing the mass of material into a readable narrative ain’t going to be easy but it’s a story I‘ve long wanted to tell.   So here goes!

6.1 The Losey/Williams Partnership  “Kessie” & new agent

I met Gordon Williams during the WAG/PLR years.  Starting as a sports journalist he went on to write several highly praised novels including The Siege of Trencher’s Farm  which Sam Peckinpah turned into the film Straw Dogs.    Gordon also shared credits with Terry Venables, encountered in his sports writing days, for the novels and tv series Hazell, though anybody who has heard Venables speak – “The boy done good”  - will know who did the writing.

Gordon and I had a very brief affair (no comment) before going our separate ways.   Early in 1980, out of the blue, he telephoned.   During a rambling conversation, I learned that he and Gavrik Losey – son of yet another McCarthy refugee, film director Joseph Losey – had set up a new-style partnership to commission novels they would then film.   Gordon had just read a book about the suffragettes and  immediately thought of me as the person to write the first novel the Partnership would film.

Once I’d expressed interest he said I needed an agent to negotiate my contract which was true.   He suggested Vivienne Schuster of the highly respected John Farquarhson Agency (which later merged with Curtis Brown) whose senior partner was Gordon’s long-time agent.  This did not then strike me as a bad idea.   Vivienne and I took to each other, and who anticipated any sort of problem?

6.2  “Kessie” contract - Enter Terry Venables - “Kessie”  savaged

Rightly, I was concerned about the contract which assigned copyright to the Losey/Williams Partnership.   Copyright was, and currently is, the only control authors have over their work.   So why on earth did I assign mine?   Because Gordon claimed he and Gavrik needed full control to see their concept through from commissioned novel to edited film.   And Gordon was a WAG/PLR mate with whom I’d  had a transitory relationship, wasn’t he?

The contract, signed in July 1980, was convoluted to say the least.  Due to the various vetting stages and my being rushed to hospital with a facial carcinoma (Gordon came to visit), I didn't get the final go ahead until June 1981.  Having worked my socks off, at Easter 1982, I delivered 150,000 words to Vivienne Schuster.  She thought there was a really good novel there but it needed editing.  By this time, what had seemed reasonable remuneration, no longer did and i badly needed the £1,750 on-delivery money.  Early in May 1982, Gordon's response arrived.

In two single-spaced foolscap pages he tore the novel to shreds.  The only character he liked was Kessie herself, but she was to cease to be Kessie.  Her marriage to the young Socialist MP Tom was to be chucked out and she was to become “sexually ambivalent”, to have affairs with both David Lloyd George and Christabel Pankhurst.  Whilst re-writing from scratch I was to “crash through the barriers of taste, gentility and inhibitions.”  There was no question of my receiving the on-delivery money for this unpublishable farrago.

Before the terrible letter arrived, I learned that the Losey-Williams Partnership was in the process of dissolution.  Why I didn’t discover and Gavrik disappeared from the scene.   Gordon wrote: “As Terry Venables actually put up the money, he and I will be your Medici-style patrons.”

That was the first mention of Venables and I didn’t take much notice.  If you regard the Medicis as villains rather than artistic patrons, the reference proved only too accurate.

6.3  Legal Advice - Dog’s Dinner contract

I was by then well dug in as a lay member of the Industrial Tribunal panel at London North.  On the day of Gordon’s terrible letter I happened to have a sitting.   In a disbelieving, pole-axed state, I took the contract and letter with me.  Having perused them, the chairman considered the contract “a dog’s dinner”, but gave the advice of all good advocates which is not to go to law if you can possibly help it.  Following this advice I asked Vivienne Schuster to handle matters.

According to her, Gordon was in “a nasty, prickly, stubborn mood”.   Eventually, reluctantly, I agreed to the best terms she said she could obtain.  The original contract was not revised but Gordon apparently agreed to my having copyright in the novel, in return for which he would retain the film rights, receive 30% of all revenues from any publishing contract, plus £1750 as a first charge.

As a jobbing actor, my husband’s income was erratic and mine was reduced  to Industrial Tribunal fees and a small amount from Carol Smith when “Flashback” surprisingly had a paperback reprint.   Had Marabel Hadfield not loaned me the £1750 Gordon refused to pay, I could not  have cut and edited “Kessie”.   Vivienne was happy with the revised text delivered at the end of 1982, but it was rejected by several publishers.

6.4  “Kessie” accepted  -  Return of Terry Venables

In the autumn of 1983, Maureen Waller who’d previously rejected “Kessie”, phoned to say it had stuck in her mind and Hodder & Stoughton were making an offer, only £2000, but it meant publication.

At this point, I learned that my Losey/Williams contract had been assigned to Terry Venables.   Also at this point, Vivienne Schuster and I started to have serious disagreements.   My position was that the “dog’s dinner” contract had to be sorted out, hers, that having signed it I hadn’t a leg to stand on and was dependent on the goodwill of Gordon and now Venables.

Not long afterwards “El Tel” became manager of Barcelona which, in the days before emails and mobile phones, didn’t help communication.   In one letter Vivienne agreed to act as his agent for the Spanish translations of the “Hazell” novels. She said it would help my case, an assertion I queried!    She kept urging me not stir up a hornet’s nest, particularly as Venables seemed “a decent straight-up sort of guy.”

I never had any direct contact with him so wouldn’t know about the decency.   I do know he was not entirely “straight-up” because in 1994 there was a BBC  Panorama” programme about Terry Venables’ dodgy business dealings (I watched it!)  During the official 1998 investigations he was accused of lying, bribery, manipulation and deception.  He was then disqualificatied from being a company director for seven years.

6.5  Contract still a dog’s dinner

By 1984 Hodder had become enthusiastic about “Kessie”.   Not only was she going into Coronet paperback but in the November they commissioned me to write a follow-up novel focusing on her sister-in-law Sarah, one of the characters Gordon had wanted chucked into the waste paper basket.   My publisher's enthusiasm presented problems.

Had anybody seen a document assigning the original contract to Terry Venables?  Did anything exist other than vague promises in letters to Vivienne Schuster?   Sarah was a character in “Kessie”.   Could Venables claim rights in her, too?   My Tribunal lawyer friends all said I badly needed to get this dreadful contract at best scrapped, at worst revised.   It was Marabel Hadfield who suggested my consulting a top copyright lawyer she knew.

6.6  Enter Michael Rubenstein   Escrow problems   Agent fired

I first saw Michael in November 1984.   He said the undated contract was the second worst he’d ever seen (don’t know what the worst was like) and agreed to represent me.  He also said he would not charge anything like his full rate and I could pay when the matter was resolved.  Venables could not, he assured me, claim rights in “Sarah” so I signed a contract with Hodder for hard and paperback editions.

A month later, impressed by Michael Rubenstein’s name, Vivienne Schuster accompanied  me to his office.   We had a long discussion, and she seemed to accept that the contractual mess had to be sorted.

On returning to her own office the attitude changed.   Farquharson’s lawyers became involved and letters flew backwards and forwards. When we learned that they had put the £1000 “Kessie” publication money into escrow i.e. into third party care, without telling me, on Michael's advise I instructed Farquarson's to cease to act as my agent.

6.7  Things look up - Hodder & Stoughton on my side

1985 started well.  The paperback of “The Tolpuddle Martyrs” was reprinted, the negotiations undertaken by the agency that had bought Ursula Winant’s stable.   Even better, Stella Richman took another option for a tv series of “The Uncrowned Queen of Ireland” which this time must be produced, mustn’t it?   Alas no.  The BBC later did a mini-series with Francesca Annis as Katie O’Shea and Trevor Eve as Parnell which didn’t draw on my extensive research and wasn’t very good but that’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Then “Kessie” won the Elizabeth Goudge prize for best historical novel of the year, awarded by the Romantic Novelists’ Association.   Picture of Joyce and Patrick at the Awards Guess who sent a congratulatory letter?   Vivienne Schuster.   Then we never disliked each other, we just got caught up in a wretched situation.

Publishers rarely want to get involved in legal tangles but Hodder couldn’t have been more helpful.   Managing Director Eric Major said they would be happy to act for me in the sale of subsidiary rights.   When I happily agreed, they sold “Kessie” for serialisation in “Woman and Home”, to Australian and Belgian women’s magazines, for a large print edition and for a Norwegian paperback.

Vivienne Schuster then contacted Eric to say, irrespective of who sold the rights, the money had to go into escrow.   When Michael said this was unfortunately true, Eric insisted on Hodder setting up their own escrow account rather than paying into Farqharson’s.

6.8  Legal impasse & the Writers' Guild

Farquharson’s lawyer continued to stonewall and by the summer of 1985 we’d got nowhere.  For the modest fee of £10, "Maxi", a delightful, recently retired copyright lawyer, read all the “Kessie” documentation.  Her succinct opinion was that a terrible contract had resulted in a fascinating legal tangle that could keep cohorts of lawyers happily occupied for years and go to the Court of Appeal.   Another solution had to be found.

What about my trade union?  My relationship with the Writer's Guild was then fine and I got on well with  the current chair John Goldsmith who came with me to Michael’s Rubenstein's  office.   Shortly afterwards I heard from John and the Guild’s general secretary, Walter Jeffrey with whom I also then got on well, that the Guild was outraged would act for me.

6.9  Enter Robert Leeson    A Revised Contract

In 1986 Robert Leeson took over as Guild chair.   He was, I gathered a prolific children’s book author and an ex-communist.   Like most communists I‘ve known, ex or otherwise, he had a humour by-pass and I didn’t gain the impression he cared for women in actuality (as opposed to good socialist theory).   Whenever I asked what was happening, he more or less told me to shut up and leave matters to the Guild.   General Secretary Walter Jeffrey agreed. 

It was Assistant General Secretary Nick Dalziel who told me that Terry Venables was now back in England.  (I can still hear my sons’ delighted screams as they watched the Steaus Bucharest v Barcelona European Cup Final on telly.  Barca missed the vital penalty in the shoot out and "El Tel" was subsequently sacked).

According to Nick, Venables had appointed Gordon Williams as his negotiator and Gordon was being extremely difficult and aggressive.   Which figured.   He also told me that Robert Leeson and Gordon were on friendly terms.   Which also figured.

The Leeson/Williams accord paid off.   I was informed that an agreement had been reached.   Copyright in the novel  Kessie “ was mine subject to £1750 first charge and 20% of all monies being paid to Venables,  I retained  television, he film rights.   The agreement was barely  an improvement on the one Vivienne Schuster had negotiated, but clauses had been clarified and a revised legal agreement would be drawn up by the Guild’s solicitors.   My fighting spirit waning, I didn’t argue.

6.10  A vicious telephone call   Yet another agent   Despair

A problem arose about Hodder and “Kessie” and I made the fatal mistake of telephoning Robert Leeson to discuss it.   I’d barely started to explain before he intervened.   In a flat voice he said I was an exceedingly tiresome, interfering, over-emotional woman who should go down on her bended knees to thank the Writers’ Guild for spending untold hours rescuing her from the mess she’d got herself into.   Instead of which I was sullying the Guild’s good name by going behind its back to my publisher and putting its role as honest broker in jeopardy. 

After he rang off I sobbed and sobbed.  The implication of the term “honest broker” failed to register.

By then Michael Rubenstein had introduced me to his brother Hilary who was a partner in the world’s oldest literary agency, A.P. Watt.  Hilary didn’t deal with my sort of novel so passed me over to Caradoc King who did.   Hodder had commissioned me to write a third  book focusing on Kessie and Tom’s eldest daughter “Anne”.   Having become my (fifth) agent Caradoc negotiated the best contract of my literary life.  “Kessie” was now out in paperback, soon to be reprinted and Hodder had sold good subsidiary rights for “Sarah”.

So why did Bob Leesons phone call have such a shattering effect?   Why did I descend into a despairing, self-flagellating state and have so abject a sense of failure?   Because I was exhausted and I’m me, I suppose.

6.11  Legal fees & other contretemps

By January 1987, a draft agreement had been drawn up by Carolyn Jennings, the Guild’s solicitor.  I then learned exactly what the term “honest broker” meant.   Summoned to a meeting in the Guild’s offices, I was informed by Robert Leeson that the legal fees would be paid off the top of the settlement 80% by me, 20% by Terry Venables.

“Get stuffed” would have been a reasonable response.  A Guild member paying the lion’s share, non-Guild member, Venables, a paltry 20%.   My fighting spirit was in tatters and eventually I said I’d pay 50%.   I don’t know whether the Guild or Venables paid the rest.  Later I asked Michael Rubenstein what his understanding of the Guild’s involvement had been.   He said, the same as mine, that it would act for me in the usual manner of a trade union, paying such legal fees as might arise.

In April 1987 I had a bad accident which put me in hospital and did nothing to raise my spirits.   A further contretemps occurred when  Hodder’s legal department considered an agreement which Gavrik Losey, the partner in an allegedly non-existent company that remained on the Companies Register, had failed to sign, was invalid.   I was advised not to sign the agreement.  I didn’t.

Incidentally, Gavrik gave up on film producing, settled with his family in Somerset and became a part-time lecturer in media studies at Bristol University.

6.12  Two Decisions

Somehow I hauled myself up from the Slough of Despond.  I phoned Nick Dalziel to tell him I would now deal directly with the Guild’s solicitor Carolyn Jennings with whom, surprisingly considering the circumstances, I’d established a rapport.

Our sons grown up, my husband agreed that paying off the interest-free mortgage Marabel had loaned me and buying a house in my native north country would be a good idea.   In October 1987, we settled in New Mills, a small moorland town just over the Derbyshire border. (Being just outside Greater Manchester proved useful for  insurance purposes).

6.13  Agreement Signed. Yet more problems

A month later the re-revised agreement between Terry Venables and Joyce Marlow was signed.  Hodder promptly released their escrow money,  just under £3000, minus the £1750 first charge plus 20% to Venables.  In the WAG days we’d made sure PLR payments were an authorial right so Venables never had any claim on them.

So was the saga finally over?   Not on your Nelly.  Farquharsons refused to pay their escrow money, claiming my involving Michael Rubenstein had incurred legal fees and stuff about insurers and underwriters.   Until the matter was sorted, I decided not to pay the Guild solicitors.   When they sent another bill that included interest for late payment, I telephoned Michael who’d said if I needed further help he would willingly give it.

After I’d explained what was not happening Michael hit the roof and contacted Carolyn Jennings who told me to ignore the interest demand which was standard practice.   There was then a barrage of letters from Michael and Carolyn, both acting for me without further charge, to Vivienne Schuster.   Between them they won the day.

In March 1988  Farquharsons released their escrow money, minus deductions for photocopying, postage and other such items.

6.14  The End of the Saga

After paying the legal fees - £1100 to the Guild solicitor’s and £785 to Michael Rubenstein who’d waited three years for his money, I had the grand sum of £2486.   Worth the years of disbelief, despair, depression, particularly as nothing more happened about “Kessie”? Hardly.   Yet in the early 1980s I didn’t know that.

Nor of course did Terry Venables.   After re-reading the mountain of correspondence I have a smidgeon of sympathy for him, as somewhere along the line, I learned that he put £25,000 into the Losey/Williams partnership, still not a bad sum and worth a hell of a lot more in 1980.   The only thing he had to show for his investment was a novel called “Kessie  which (who knew) might earn some real money.   It didn’t, but I can see how he felt.

It was only a smidgeon.  I regret being too dispirited to contact the “Daily Mirror” which had its knives out for him.  A piece about macho “El Tel”, a suffragette novel and a female author fighting her corner could have gone down well and earned a few pennies.  

While the final battle was ongoing I received three identical letters – two, to my old, one to my new address in New Mills.   These informed me I was no longer the Guild representative on the PLR Advisory Committee.   This upset me, but the PLR Registrar John Sumsion’s deep displeasure at my departure cheered me up.

I then wrote a succinct letter to the EC which included the suggestion that in future the Guild made clear when it was in the brokerage business.   I took pleasure in resigning my membership and rejoining the Society of Authors which with Mark le Fanu as its General Secretary had perked up considerably.   I always got on well with Mark which helped the move.

6.15  Goodbye Writers' Guild, Robert Leeson and Gordon Williams

I had no further contact with the Writers’ Guild but I know Walter Jeffrey sadly died of Aids.   What became of my friend Nick Dalziel I don’t know.   I’ve no idea, and less interest in, what happened to Robert Leeson.   Should he be alive and remember me, he doubtless still regards me as an ungrateful, interfering bitch.   Gordon Williams's  wife was a wealthy Australian so maybe the family moved there.  I have since learned from an article a friend sent me that as of October 2012  Gordon was living in  West  London  and didn't appear to have done much  in the intervening years. 

7.0  What Happened Next : Books & Tribunals

In 1989 to my astonishment “Kessie” was published in what was still East Germany.   I spent three fascinating weeks as the guest of Aufbau Verlag just before the Berlin Wall came down.

Hodder remained interested in me and, having settled into New Mills, I spent the best part of a year doing an immensely detailed outline for a quartet of novels following a diverse group of people in and around Manchester from the early days of the Industrial Revolution to late Victorian times.   Was I shattered when Hodder turned the idea down?   Curiously, knowing I’d made the right decision in moving back north,  I picked myself up and soldiered on.   None of the ideas I subsequently came up was deemed publishable.   First Hodder, then Caradoc King, lost interest.   When "Kessie", "Sarah" and "Anne" were in the libraries my PLR payments shot into the thousands of pounds, which meant hundreds of people had read them and provided some finanical compensation.

I was able to switch Tribunal sittings from London North to Manchester and remained a member until reaching retirement age i.e. 70.
In 1991, through Carole Fries who was then editing for Bedford Square Press, I produced Industrial Tribunals and Appeals aimed at helping applicants and respondents, which several nice letters and comments informed me the booklet did.  In 1997 I wrote another  booklet The ALCS Story to celebrate the twentieth anniversary.

Picture of Dust Jacket for Women In The Great WarPicture of The Dust Jacket for Votes for WomenCarole had introduced me to yet another agent Sara Menguc and through her I edited two anthologies for Virago (with which Carmen Calill was no longer closely involved).   Women and the Great War was published  in 1998,  Votes for Women  in 2000.   Glenda Jackson and I had successful readings from both anthologies at the Imperial War Museum, the Museum of London and the National Gallery theatre.   For both anthologies I was interviewed on "Woman's Hour", on the first occasion by myself, on the second in tandem with Glenda. 

  My childhood memoirs  "It Doesn’t Always Rain in Manchester"   were produced as an audio book, read by my friend Ruth Holt. Nothing much has happened, perhaps because the dvds are expensive at £5 each. 

8.0  Family Matters

Patrick soon settled into New Mills and became a Labour councillor.   In 1997, the symptoms that had been worrying me,  if fortunately not him, were diagnosed as the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.   A firm believer that if you ignore problems they’ll go away, that somewhere at the very end of the rainbow there is a pot of gold, Patrick retained his sunny temperament through the long sad years of decline.   To begin with I looked after him but eventually he went into a residential, then a nursing home.   In 2008 he died just before his eighty-second birthday.

Both my sons continue to live in the London area.   Nicholas works as a hospital porter, is married to Jilly and has two children, Callum and Aimee.  They come up to see me regularly, as does Julian who is an IT Consultant.   His partner doesn’t like me so she doesn’t visit.   They have no children.

I think I should have made more of my talents and the opportunities I was given as both actress and writer, but I no longer feel a total failure.  

  In a brief speech at my highly successful 80th birthday party Julian said, whatever my faults and foibles, I was never boring.  I liked that!

Picture of Joyce and her sons at her 80th birthday party

9.0 Joyce at 85

Joyce at 84 

With thanks to my good friend Eve Avery who helped me to publish this web site