Elizabeth Coles Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Elizabeth Taylor was born to Oliver Coles, an insurance inspector, and Elsie Fewtrell Coles, whom Taylor credited with nurturing her imagination and creating an interest in literature. As a child, Elizabeth Coles spent a lot of time in the Reading public library. She attended the Abbey School in Reading. In 1930, at the age of eighteen, she became a governess and a few years later a librarian at High Wycombe. In 1936 she married John William Kendell Taylor, a manufacturer, with whom she had a son, Renny, and a daughter, Joanna.

Elizabeth Taylor began to write in the years following her marriage. Several short stories were published in Time and Tide, Harper’s Bazaar, Harper’s Magazine, and Adelphi. During World War II she lived at Scarborough while her husband was in the Royal Air Force. She drew upon this experience for her first published novel, At Mrs. Lippincote’s, a comedy of manners that portrays life in wartime England.

After the war she and her family settled in the country village of Penn, Buckinghamshire, which Taylor considered a congenial atmosphere for a novelist. There she wrote a total of twelve novels, four short story collections, and a children’s book. A View of the Harbour is a satire of the gothic novel. Taylor’s lighthearted treatment of the genre is reminiscent of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey (1818). A View of the Harbour, which depicts life in an English seaside village, was praised by reviewers for its economy of expression, scenic accuracy, and objective characterizations.

One of Taylor’s interests was painting, and in 1949 she presented, in A Wreath of Roses, a main character who lives for her art but whose career and...

(The entire section is 725 words.)


(Literary Essentials: Short Fiction Masterpieces)

Born in Reading, England, on July 3, 1912, Elizabeth Taylor became a governess after attending the Abbey School and then a librarian at the public library at High Wycombe. In 1936, she married John William Kendell Taylor, a manufacturer, and began writing full time, publishing stories in popular journals both in England and America. After World War II, she and her husband settled in the village of Penn, in Buckinghamshire, where she wrote most of her fiction. Taylor said that she loved England and would find it painful to live any place else, commenting, “I should like to feel that the people in my books are essentially English and set down against a truly English background.”