Enid Bagnold

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Enid Bagnold was born on October 27, 1889, in Rochester, England. Her father was a colonel with the Royal Engineers, and the family moved around frequently because of his varied assignments. When Bagnold was nine, her family moved to Jamaica, where as she says in her 1969 autobiography, she began an inner life: "Beauty never hit me until I was nine." At that time, she began to write, and she continued to write for more than seventy years. In the spring of 1902, her father's command expired, and she moved with her family back to England.

In 1903 she was fourteen, the age of her most famous heroine. Velvet Brown of National Velvet. The great success of that work came in part from Bagnold's memories of what adolescence was like. She attended Priors Field School in Godalming, England, which was run by the mother of the famous author Aldous Huxley. In 1906 Bagnold left the school and went abroad to Paris for a year.

During her stay in France, she became more sophisticated and more aware of the arts, particularly French literature. She returned to her family in 1907 and five years later moved to London and began to write professionally. For nine months, she wrote for the famous editor and writer Frank Harris, honing her journalistic and creative skills. During World War I, she served in an English hospital for two years and then as a driver for the French Army; she kept a diary of the "shocks" she experienced and in 1918 published A Diary Without Dates based on her wartime experiences. Bagnold married Sir Roderick Jones, chairman of Reuters, a major news agency in England, in 1920. His work often took the couple to foreign places. As her family grew to include three sons and a daughter, Bagnold continued to write. Three novels for an adult audience came out of these years, and in 1930 she published her children's book Alice and Thomas and Jane, with illustrations by her daughter.

Although most of her writings were for adults, Bagnold is remembered most of all for her 1935 novel National Velvet. about a fourteen-year-old girl's stunning victory in the Grand National, the foremost steeplechase in the world. The book was an international success and has gone into numerous editions and printings since. It was made into a popular movie, a stage play, and a television series. Never again did Bagnold write anything so well received as National Velvet But her play The Chalk Garden debuted on Broadway in 1956 and won the Award of Merit for Drama from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The Chalk Garden was filmed in 1963, starring Deborah Kerr and Hay ley Mills.

In 1962 Bagnold's husband died. Some months later, she resumed work on her play, The Chinese Prime Minister. At the age of eighty, she published Enid Bagnold's Autobiography. She died on March 31, 1981.

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